Lionfish causing problems on the Gulf of Mexico

My Sun Coast –

Lionfish are causing problems on the Gulf of Mexico, local fisherman in St. Petersburg report.

WTSP traveled with people who are always boating on the Gulf and they discussed Lionfish is a predatory invasive species that eats native sea life and takes over reefs at a rate that has scientists alarmed.

“Anybody that’s in this community knows it’s a problem,” said Chris Emmons. It’s a concern he’s had for years since he sees juvenile fish being eaten and not reaching maturity the way they used to.

The lionfish are destroying the delicate balance of the underwater ecosystem. The spiny, striped creatures are fascinating to look at and are native to the Pacific Ocean. But during the 1980s, an aquarium was breached and the fish we dumped into the Gulf, where they made themselves at home.

Like the pythons in the Everglades, humans have been forced to try to control the population. If we don’t, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is concerned that populations of native fish might not recover.

Hanna Tillotson, with the FWC Lionfish Control team, has seen it happen.

“Really just at an alarming rate, they’re able to take over reefs,” she said.

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