Disruption of an Ecosystem – The lionfish

Lionfish (Pterois Volitans) have continued to impact many ecosystems over the last 15 years since their initial introduction. This invasive species has been harmful to native coral reef systems in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic. It inhabits warm waters in the Atlantic, reefs, and wrecks.

The lionfish has no natural predators, this makes them immune to most and they are also venomous. It has a painful sting due to its venomous anal, dorsal spines, and pelvic spines. The lionfish has a broad diet that consists of over 50 different types of fish species.

A popular aquarium fish, it is sometimes directly or indirectly released into the wild. It has negatively impacted ecosystems, especially coral reefs by eating away herbivores that feed on algae. The algae growth can get out of hand, and be detrimental to coral reefs. The lionfish has spread to many oceans, bringing destruction to corals, and creating marine imbalance.

Presently, many Caribbean countries have started launching campaigns geared towards monitoring, removing, and preventing the spread of invasive lionfish.


USGS – ‘A new study finds a lack of evidence to support the widely accepted introduction scenario in which the invasive lionfish originated solely from Florida and identifies alternative introduction pathways. ‘

California Academy of Sciences – Study confirms invasive lionfish now threaten species along the Brazilian coast

NOAA -Impacts of Invasive Lionfish