How did the lionfish get into the waters in the Florida Keys and will they continue to flourish?



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    Since the 1990s, there have been lionfish reported throughout the waters of Florida, as far north as the Carolinas and sounth to the Bermudas. It was inevitable that they would eventually find their way to the Keys, and the first capture of one there occured in January of 2009.

    Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific. No one can confirm exactly how they made it here, but since many people keep them in aquariums, it’s very likely that the first few were pets that no one wanted anymore. They subsequently fluorished in the warm waters of Florida. They are effective hunters since they have poisonous spikes, and they can lay up to 30,000 eggs at a time! NOAA estimates that, if left on their own, the population will continue to grow.

    They ask anyone who sees the invasive fish on the American Atlantic coast to call their number, 305-395-8730, and not try to capture or kill it themselves because of the poison. It also seems impractical to send out trained divers to eliminate the problem, because of the depths and terrain of the area. So, as of present, there seems to be no great solution.

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