Scientists: Lionfish Population Exploding in Gulf

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) --

Scientists say the population of lionfish in the Gulf of Mexico is exploding and they are worried about how it will affect the ecosystem.

The lionfish is named for the mane of elaborate fins around their bodies. They are native to the Pacific Ocean, but not the Gulf or Atlantic. Scientists believe captive lionfish may have escaped from aquariums in south Florida during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Bob Shipp is the head of marine sciences at the University of South Alabama. He says the explosion in the population is ominous. Shipp says it's not clear yet whether lionfish will replace native species on reefs or whether the increase will level off.

Lionfish have big mouths and they can consume fish nearly as big as they are.

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