The invasive lionfish have invaded the U.S. Virgin Islands! These beautiful but deadly fish pose a serious threat to the local eco-system. While harmful to humans, the real concern is that the invasive lionfish has no natural predator in the Virgin Islands. The native fish populations could be wiped out!
Photo source: NOAA.gov
Lionfish were first detected in the Virgin Islands in 2008. As of yet, they have failed to establish themselves. Some have been seen as far north as the coast of North Carolina. But further south, off the coast of Belize, the invasive lionfish was established itself there and other Caribbean islands, threatening their reefs and the sea life.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is launching a fishing campaign with the slogan “Eat Lionfish”. They hope that with the help of fisherman and tourists to prevent the invasive lionfish from taking root in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Lionfish may look beautiful, but their lovely array of spinal barbs are venomous! Divers and swimmers who are stung by these fish will feel intense pain. The venom will attack a person’s lymph nodes and can cause pain and discomfort for periods up to twelve hours.
Last Friday, divers caught and killed a six-inch long invasive lionfish off the Virgin Islands National Park. Another was captured and killed in Fish Bay near St. John in mid-July. Four of the invasive lionfish have been dealt with in the Virgin Islands so far this year.
An all out effort has been launched by NOAA to stop the invasive lionfish in the Virgin Islands. But be careful! They are dangerous to humans as well as the local fish populations. Exercise extreme caution should you encounter an invasive lionfish in the Virgin Islands. Warn your family, friends and loved ones.