Expedition Discovers Invasive and Huge Lionfish Thrive Deep Beneath Atlantic Ocean

Posted: July 12, 2013  |  By: Catherine Griffin [Science World Report]

Deep beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean lives a voracious predator that gobbles down fish as it hunts in tropical waters. It's not a shark, though; it's not even a squid. Instead, this predator is the invasive lionfish--and it turns out that they're growing huge at 300 feet below.

Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific region. With their graceful, fan-like fins and their striking, striped patterns, these fish have long been used as popular aquarium pets. Unfortunately, this popularity is probably what introduced them to areas along the coast of the U.S. in the first place. It's very likely that someone dumped aquarium water into the ocean, either knowingly or unknowingly releasing the first lionfish into the wild.

While lionfish can appear as far north as New Jersey in the summertime, though, these creatures are usually limited by how warm waters are. That said, it seems that at least one population of these tropical fish have dived to depths and have thrived, growing large over the years. Since big fish in many species can reproduce much more efficiently than their younger counterparts, this phenomenon raises significant concerns.

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