Are Lionfish Resorting to Cannibalism?

After Florida took the measures to tame the lionfish population it did not work now these fierce predators have resorted to cannibalism, dispite them being reduced to this their numbers are still not expected to go down significantly. In Conch Key Florida a fisherman by the name of Gary Nichols who is no stranger to the lionfish infact he has been encountering them in his lobster straps for sevral years but of late he has noticed a change with this predatory fish, “When you bring them up from those depths, lionfish spit out what’s in their stomachs, and I noticed quite a few of them regurgitating other lionfish. I didn’t even have to gut them to see it because they’re still in their mouths,” Nichols says. “They’re pretty incredible eaters so I’m not really surprised.” Cannibalism can be possibly viewed as nature’s way of coping with in growing lionfish population however it will not provide much relief for this rapidly growing population across the affected regions of this parasitic invasion. There has been DNA evidence which confirms that lionfish cannibalism is not only occuring in Florida’s waters but also in the Caribbean scientists along with researchers are trying to determine the cause of this sudden shift is it possibly due to a depleting food supply of fish such as snapper and gobies wich the lionfish feed of off or is it some other phenomena bringing about this behaviour.  Cannibalism is no stranger among fishes in fact it occurs in sevral species of reef fish although it is rare it still occurs. A study was carried out on the contents of the lionfish’s stomach they discovered that cannibalism occured in 4 of the 130 specimens caught in the waters of the Bahamas, similar results were collected from specimens examined in Mexico. Ocean currents and hurricanes continue to aid in the spread of these parasitic predators through out the oceans. The lionfish densities recorded in the Atlantic were found to be 5 times higher than that of the Indo-Pacific where it is native. Scientists have determined that the lionfish manage their numbers in the Indo-Pacific but the controlling factor is not likely to even exist in the Atlantic which brings about the issue of their rapid spread and potential development of cannibalistic behaviour.

Fighting the invasive species in Florida’s Costal Waters

By Tamika Rampersad



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