Scientists Says Lionfish Population Exploding in Gulf

Jul 23, 2012

Scientists say there’s an exploding population of lionfish off Alabama’s coast and are concerned how it could affect the ecosystem. The spiky, brown-and-white striped fish are native to the Pacific Ocean, but not the Gulf or Atlantic. Scientists believe the invasive species was first introduced about 20 years ago in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. Karon Aplin is with Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Aplin says“They’re a popular aquarium species, and the thought is that when Hurricane Andrew came through it caused so much damage and destruction that perhaps lionfish that were present there got released through all the destruction, and the population gradually spread around the tip of Florida and up through the northern Gulf.”

Aplin adds that lionfish have venomous spikes and can sting people. she says if anyone is stung by lionfish, the best remedy is applying heat, not ice.