Lionfish (Pterois antennata) is a fish of the family Scorpaenidae. Its natural habitat is the Lagoon and reef tropical Indian Ocean and western Pacific. Takes refuge during the day and hunts shrimp and crab at night. Grows up to 20 cm.
Their bite is poisonous: the dorsal fin rays, two of the ventral fin rays, and two anal fin are equipped with poison glands.
These bites can cause painful injuries to divers, while the toxin can cause paralysis inoculated human respiratory, circulatory failure, and fever. The symptoms usually disappear after one or two days.
It’s lonely and is more likely to find at the bottom, where slowly swimming drives and corners with its fins to their prey.
The lionfish was possibly introduced by accident in the waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, becoming a serious threat to local fauna of fish and invertebrates which feed and a risk to the balance of marine ecosystems in the region because the fish apparently has no natural enemies in these waters and reproduce at a rapid pace.
The most accepted hypothesis of its sudden appearance in the Caribbean Sea is that as in 1992 at least six of these fish were released in Biscayne Bay (USA) to the break of the aquarium which contained them during Hurricane Andrew.
Since then it has reported the presence of lionfish in the Gulf of Mexico off Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula.
Their coloring allows easily pass unnoticed, representing a risk to divers or swimmers. It is a territorial fish that occasionally swims rapidly toward the attacker to hit him with their spines.
All spines of lionfish are venomous and their bite, although it is relatively painless at first, it is extremely painful after a while, depending on the poison received. Symptoms may include swelling, redness, bleeding, nausea, numbness, joint pain, anxiety, headache, confusion, dizziness, paralysis or seizures.
Today, the lionfish is widely distributed in the Caribbean and appeared in some areas and a few fish resources but many divers as the coasts of Cuba, Haiti and Dominican Republic.
Since 2002 there are reports of the presence of lion fish specimens on the coast of Puerto Rico, on a species that eats large quantities of snappers and groupers and there are no studies yet on the number on the Caribbean island.
Costa Rican scientists have warned of the presence of species of lionfish in the Caribbean south of the country since 2008.
Similarly, Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Institute marine biologist of Tropical Research in Panama confirmed that the lionfish has already been seen in Bocas del Toro and San Blas since 2009. And predicts the spread in the rest of the Caribbean because it can reproduce 10 times more than the rest of the Western Pacific species. ie “in the Caribbean has more ability to reproduce.”
Since 2010, this aggressive invader has been reported in Colombia and Venezuela. In the first, have been exemplary in beaches near Santa Marta and Cartagena have sparked alarm. What were sporadic sightings have become immersions by professional divers that may end up with 200 fish caught.
The Venezuelan coast are filled with lion fish . Already been captured and removed from the coasts of western and centrals more than 150 specimens.
By Gustavo Carrasquel | ANCA 24