[Coral-List] Lionfish in the Atlantic

Todd Barber-Clear reefball at reefball.com
Tue Feb 19 18:29:00 EST 2008

Hi JC,

For what it is worth, I recall seeing a review of a scientific publication 
in Science News a while back that genetic information had indeed been 
collected and it was determined the Lionfish (in NC and Bahamas) were from a 
single mother....therefore pointing a likely introduction source as an 
aquarium release.

I believe the conclusion was that the release must have been in NC and not 
Miami as originally thought.  I would suggest a literature search and review 
of the original article.

There has been rumor here in NC that the original release was from a dive 
shop employee trying to make an exciting dive destination (this may be only 
urban legend).


Todd R. Barber
Chairman, Reef Ball Foundation

Skype name: toddbarber
Cell Phone 941-720-7549

3305 Edwards Court
Greenville, NC 27858

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----- Original Message ----- 
From: <delbeek at waquarium.org>
To: "Szmant, Alina" <szmanta at uncw.edu>; "Douglas Fenner" 
<dfenner at blueskynet.as>; "Craig Lilyestrom" <craig at caribe.net>; "Lee 
Goldman" <coralfarmguam at yahoo.com>
Cc: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 1:46 PM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Lionfish in the Atlantic

>I would think that doing some genetic work on these fish to determine how
> closely related they are would help in determining their possible origin.
> Blaming the aquarium trade for this situation is all too convenient and 
> lacks
> any objective evidence. If these fish came from aquarium releases, then 
> one
> would expect all these fish off the east coast to be pretty closely 
> related.
> The sheer numbers of fish being reported indicates to me the possibility 
> of a
> much larger breeding population as being the more likely source, then a 
> few
> aquarium releases. Hopefully a genetic study would shed more light on 
> this??
> I don't know that gobies and blennies would be as much affected as 
> juveniles
> that school like grunts, cardinalfish, snappers etc ... these are the 
> types of
> fish I have seen lionfish stalking most often, not benthic species.
> Back in the 50's I think it was, the state of Hawaii imported Peacock 
> Groupers
> (Cephalopholis argus) into Hawaii to create another food fish source for
> anglers and spear fishermen. Unfortunately, these fish are prone to 
> ciguatera
> and so are not hunted much. Similarly, the state introduced Bluestriped
> snappers (Lutjanus kasmira) decades ago, which have since exploded in 
> number
> and now are suspected of out competing local deepwater snappers for food.
> These were both mass introductions that resulted in breeding populations. 
> No
> one has commented on how these introductions affected local fish 
> populations,
> especially tropical fish targeted by collectors. There have been several
> sightings of tropical fish in Hawaiian waters that were most likely the 
> result
> of aquarium releases or perhaps premeditated introductions (Primarily
> angelfish and surgeonfish/tangs), but I don't think ANY of these have 
> exploded
> in number or created significant breeding populations in the Hawaiian 
> Islands
> like we are seeing off the east coast of the US with lionfish. The lone
> exception may be the Marshall Islands form of Flame angel off of West 
> Hawaii
> but I am not 100% sure of these reports. Again, genetic work might help 
> clear
> this up.
> At least in the state of Hawaii, to the best of my knowledge, only fish 
> that
> were released in LARGE numbers have establish themselves in significant
> numbers in the Hawaiian Islands.
> Aloha!
> J.C. Delbeek
> Disclaimer: The above is just my opinion and does necessarily reflect 
> those of
> my employer.
> "Szmant, Alina" <szmanta at uncw.edu> said:
>> The lion fish here off of NC are everywhere offshore.  And I saw a dive
>> article about there abundance elsewhere in Caribbean.  They are
>> definitely established in the Atlantic, and can now be considered
>> invasive.  They'll probably have a major effect on small reef fishes
>> such as gobies and blennies.
>> *******************************************************************
>> Dr. Alina M. Szmant
>> Coral Reef Research Group
>> UNCW-Center for Marine Science
>> 5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
>> Wilmington NC 28409
>> Tel: (910)962-2362 & Fax:  (910)962-2410
>> Cell:  (910)200-3913
>> email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
>> Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta
>> ******************************************************************
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Douglas
>> Fenner
>> Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 10:07 PM
>> To: Craig Lilyestrom; Lee Goldman
>> Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Live coral trade - Philippine exports
>> Good point.  Currently, several Pacific fish species are being found in
>> Florida and elsewhere, particularly Lionfish, and the numbers of the
>> latter
>> at least indicate that the genie is out of the bottle, it sounds to me
>> like
>> an introduced species that is going to be invasive.  They were released
>> by
>> people from their aquariums into the ocean.  I hear from aquarium people
>> that there are a variety of diseases and parasites that show up in
>> aquaria,
>> including coral diseases I believe.  I could easily imagine a disease or
>> parasite, say on coral, coming from the Pacific, being released from an
>> aquarium in Florida, and having potentially severe effects there and
>> throughout the Caribbean.  Doesn't seem too far fetched.  -Doug
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