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Lionfish Invade Miami's Inshore Waters; 'Divers Should Use Extra Caution'

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KEY BISCAYNE, Florida -- Lionfish may soon be a common feature in the shallow waters off Miami. A juvenile of these invasive exotic species was captured just off Key Biscayne's beach on Saturday, one of five sighted in the area within the past few weeks.

Lionfish are native to the Pacific Ocean and are reported to reproduce fast and eat ravenously, potentially threatening the balance of South Florida's natural marine ecosystems by gobbling up juvenile lobsters, groupers and other reef species.

Their presence may conflict with this years lobster season, as Lionfish share the same habitat with lobsters, including underwater ledges and holes, and are also highly poisonous, equipped with an array of venomous spines, each which can deliver a painful sting.

Local snorkeling enthusiast Steven Lutz, collected the juvenile Lionfish on Saturday with Dr. Michael Schmale from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science. Researchers can use genetic analysis on the fish to determine where they originated from.

"I have been swimming these waters for the past twenty years and this is the first time we have seen them here," said Lutz. "Divers should use extra caution when grabbing for a lobster this season, or they might be in for a nasty and painful surprise."

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

4 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

We have a site dedicated to Lionfish Awareness. It's www.killthelionfish.com Capture, Kill, Eat. Repeat.
   comment# 1   - Kill The Lionfish · Miami · Jul 13, 2010 @ 5:58am

...just when we found a nice beach to go to and enjoy I see this on the news,is it safe to go to the beaches and swim, what should you do if stung by a lionfish????
   comment# 2   - Janis · Weston, USA · Jul 14, 2010 @ 2:04am

Lionfish are docile animals. You are not likely to get stung one unless you disturb it. For info on what to do if you get stung see 'threat to humans' at: http://coris.noaa.gov/exchanges/lionfish/
   comment# 3   - Steven · Miami, USA · Jul 15, 2010 @ 4:40am

There are three on the Blue Fire in 110ft and 1 on the Almirante in 100ft. Reports from other divers on the Ocean Freeze, Sherilynn, and Belzona Barges. Please report sighting to the REEF.org invasive species program.
   comment# 4   - Matthew Hoelscher · Miami, FL · Jul 15, 2010 @ 7:22pm
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