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Red lionfish wreaking havoc on Caribbean's ecosystem

August 19, 2008 |  3:20 pm


The red lionfish, a visually stunning but venomous sea creature, is rapidly multiplying in the Caribbean's warm waters, swallowing native species, stinging divers and wreaking havoc on an ecologically delicate region, the Associated Press reports.

A marine biologist likens the arrival of the red lionfish to an invasion of locusts. As the AP reports:

The red lionfish, a tropical native of the Indian and Pacific oceans that probably escaped from a Florida fish tank, is showing up everywhere -- from the coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola to Little Cayman's pristine Bloody Bay Wall.

Wherever it appears, the adaptable predator corners fish and crustaceans up to half its size and sucks them down in one violent gulp.

"This may very well become the most devastating marine invasion in history," said Mark A. Hixon, an Oregon State University zoology professor and marine ecology expert who compared lionfish to a plague of locusts. "There is probably no way to stop the invasion completely."

--Francisco Vara-Orta

Photo: Doug Kesling/Associated Press

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