The lionfish continues to be problematic for Florida wildlife officials. While nice to look at, the invasive fish is harmful to the state’s nature habitat. The state wildlife agency is designating May 16th as Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is trying to increase awareness about the negative impact lionfish have on Florida’s native wildlife. Through education and outreach, the FWC is encouraging the public to remove the venomous fish from Florida waters. Agency spokeswoman, Amanda Nalley says that lionfish often eat other species including things that keep algae in check.
“Once you have a lionfish or several lionfish on a reef, all of a sudden you may see a drop in the population of the algae eaters and then an abundance of algae on that reef which can damage that habitat,” Nalley says.
Lionfish venom is delivered through its 18 needle-like dorsal fins. The fish relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture prey. It’s a popular aquarium pet for its mane-like appearance. The FWC wants the public to select a reef and pledge to remove lionfish from the area.