In recent years, we seem to be seeing more and more lionfish in Hong Kong, and they are very welcome as they add a nice splash of colour to a dive. Not so in the Atlantic where they are eating vast amounts of young fish around coral reefs. Studies seem to show that their prey make no attempt to avoid them, presumably because they are a new, unfamiliar predator in the western Atlantic and Caribbean. Their victims include species that keep algae from overwhelming reefs, adding further pressure to the corals.
Sharks and other predators seem to avoid the pacific lionfish, whose population has exploded and is having a significant impact in the Bahamas and Cuba. And their range continues to expand.
Researchers are hoping that eventually native Atlantic species will react to the new invader, but that could take a long time. In some places divers are being asked to help control them, with tournaments to see who can bring back the most lionfish. One enterprising US company is trying to market lionfish to restaurants as an exotic dish.
You can read more from the Guardian’s website.