NANFA-- FW: Aquaticinfo: Prickly Ocean Predator Invading East Coast

Nick Zarlinga (
Tue, 22 Jun 2004 14:48:38 -0400

I addition to the locations below, they have also been found off of Long

Nick Zarlinga
Aquarium Biologist
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
216.661.6500 ext 4485

><)> -----Original Message-----
><)> From:
><)> On Behalf Of Bob
><)> Jenkins
><)> Sent: Friday, May 21, 2004 11:10 AM
><)> To: Aquatic Information Listserve; AZAAquatic
><)> Interest Group
><)> Subject: Aquaticinfo: Prickly Ocean Predator
><)> Invading East Coast
><)> Prickly Ocean Predator Invading East Coast
><)> CHARLESTON, S.C. - They are lovely to look at, but
><)> pack a painful
><)> sting and their numbers are growing, researchers say.
><)> National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers
><)> released a report Thursday saying that an
><)> "increase in abundance"
><)> of lionfish off the East Coast is irreversible.
><)> Fishermen and divers should not touch the maroon-striped,
><)> fan-finned beauty if they come across it. Its
><)> dorsal, pelvic and
><)> anal spines can deliver a painful sting similar to
><)> that of the
><)> stingray.
><)> The fish is found in water as shallow as 3 feet in
><)> its native
><)> South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Red Sea tropics.
><)> Little is known
><)> about its potential seasonal behavior in the
><)> Southeast as the
><)> population grows, but it hasn't been found in less
><)> than 80 feet
><)> of water and it tends not to stray from the warm
><)> waters of the
><)> Gulf Stream, said NOAA biologist Paula Whitfield.
><)> It is a bottom fish that prefers reefs and jetties
><)> to open water.
><)> It's unclear-in-what age lionfish begin to sting. "It's not
><)> aggressive," Whitfield said. "You can swim right up and
><)> photograph it. It's not like people need to be
><)> worrying about it
><)> attacking them."
><)> But if people do bump into a lionfish, it can be painful.
><)> "It causes big-time swelling and a lot of pain," said U.S.
><)> Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary Tim Keeney, a
><)> veteran diver.
><)> "They're very seductive. They're gorgeous in the
><)> water. This is
><)> one of the fish that divers say can do serious
><)> damage to you."
><)> The immediate treatment is to sink the stung flesh
><)> into hot water
><)> that's not scalding and seek medical help.
><)> There were lionfish sightings-in-three locations
><)> in the Southeast
><)> in 2000, 12 in 2001 and 41 in 2002 - including at
><)> least six off
><)> South Carolina, the NOAA report said. Researchers
><)> plan a sample
><)> count off North Carolina this summer.
><)> A 17-inch-long lionfish recently caught off Cape
><)> Lookout, N.C.,
><)> is the first reported catch of one of the fish by
><)> hook and line,
><)> Whitfield said.
><)> Researchers think the invasive species spread from aquarium
><)> releases. Their effect was compared to that of the nuisance
><)> aquatic plant hydrilla.
><)> "We have had enough bad experiences to know we
><)> should not be
><)> introducing new fish species," said Dean
><)> Wilkinson, National
><)> Invasive Species Council coordinator.
><)> Copyright C 2004 The Associated Press. All rights
><)> reserved. The
><)> information contained in the AP News report may
><)> not be published,
><)> broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the
><)> prior written
><)> authority of The Associated Press.

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