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Invasion of the Red Lionfish a major concern to fishermen

by Kimberley Cummins

acloseupwithlionfishThe Red Lionfish may be pretty but it is also very dangerous.

This from fishermen who spoke to a Barbados TODAY team which visited the Consett Bay Fish market in St. John this afternoon. And some of these fisherfolk were worried about the danger the fish posed to not only the reef but the Barbadian public.

Carlos Walrond, a fisherman and lifeguard, described the Lionfish as “a cancer to the reef”. He said Sunday alone he caught 27 at Bath in St. John.

“We are worried but we can’t do nothing about it. They [are] here to stay. Fish is move around with the current and if they have a population that aground with food they gine come. As we see them we try to kill them but the more we kill the more we see. If you go down Bath you would see them hiding under the reef, some small little ones- I seeing them constantly.

“What I am concerned about is the public safety because sometimes you only know you get juck by this thing when you get a fever and I hearing they also could cause death in people who suffering from heart disease. People go to the beach at Bath and jumping off the reef barefoot and they can get a stick which can cause severe pain. [A woman] get juck the other day and the pain was so hot she run and lef’ she car,” he said.

Richard Coppin told Barbados TODAY he first started seeing the Pterois (the scientific name) around June this year. First, there were just a few which the “grainers (tank divers) caught in Glenburnie,” he said. However, he heard that they were now being sighted on the west and south coasts of the island.

lionfishoncuttingboard“Now them a plenty all over Barbados. Them really pretty but them dangerous to the reef. They does kill off the young fish and lobsters so they would mek the population hard. They even worse than grainers because these does be eating the baby fish and they won’t get to produce. If you kill of all the little children and the big people dead off, there will be nobody.

“We ain’t worried because we guarantee once we see them, them dead. Shooting them out is the only way to get rid of them, we shoot them as we see them. We aren’t seeing a decrease in fish just as yet but it is only a matter of time,” he warned

Information found on different websites stated that the lionfish are said to be a group of venomous marine fish found mostly in the Indo-Pacific. Pterois is characterised by conspicuous warning coloration with red, white, creamy, or black bands, showy pectoral fins and venomous spiky fin rays. They were classified into a number of different species, however the Pterois radiata, Pterois volitans and Pterois miles were the most commonly studied.

Pterois range in size from 2.44 inches to 16.69 inches with typical adults measuring 14.96 inches and weighing an average of 1.05 pounds. The biggest found in Barbados’ waters so far was a pound and measured 12 inches. Pterois can live from five to 15 years and have complex courtship and mating behaviours.

Females release two mucus-filled egg clusters frequently, which can contain as many as 15,000 eggs. Studies on Pterois reproductive habits have increased significantly in the past decade.

Lionfish are known for their venomous fin rays, a feature that is uncommon among marine fish in the East Coast coral reefs. The potency of their venom makes them excellent predators and poisonous to fishermen and divers.

When prepared correctly they are said to be quite tasty.

One Response to Invasion of the Red Lionfish a major concern to fishermen

  1. Tony Webster September 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Not good news at all; would be useful if we could find out how the folks where the originated, have dealt with the threat. Like, have they found a natural predator, or parasite etc, which will bring things back into “eco-equilibrium”? Maybe, seek advice from the Researchers at Bellairs Research Institute here? Otherwise, we’ll just have to eat ’em up, as they already do in the Bahamas!

    BTW, please do not confuse this Lionfish, with two other feared look-alikes: First, our well-known “Skulpin”, equally or more venomous, a seriously UGLY fellow, and long a resident of Bath/Consett area- as well as , any mossy and shallow near-shore areas (even Gravesend area). Endemic in Australia, they call this a “Stone-fish”. A cerelesss step on him will put you in QEH in a hurry. And another ominous-looking (but quite harmless) look-alike of the Lion-fish, the West Indian Bat-fish: pretty; flashy, and most likely just posing-off as the real thing! If encountered, admire him, and allow M’sieur bat-Fish to go peacefully on his way.


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