We were free diving on a small sailboat wreck reportedly dating from the 1800's a few miles north of of North Bimini in the Western Bahamas yesterday. What should Dr. Denis, a Marine Biologist, see but a Pacific Red Lionfish, likely Pterois volitans. Denis and I grew up diving in Ft. Lauderdale.
It was a shocker to me having grown up seeing delicate images of Lionfish with the understanding that they were Pacific fish and never occurred in Atlantic waters. Denis had heard of other sightings in the Biminis in recently. I did a little searching and found out that the Red Lionfish has been sighted up and down the east coast of the USA including Florida as well as in various islands in the Western Bahamas. The Lionfish usually are found only in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Red Lionfish distribution per http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/gallery/d ... nfish.html
A video clip of the Lionfish appears below:
I wasn't trying to disturb it unduly despite appearances.
Not being aware at the time of the degree of documentation already in place about the appearance of this species in foreign waters I made a point of showing off native species and biotope characteristics in the photo background. Not in the Pacific.
Lionfish congregate at times in their natural ranges. I don't know if this behavior has been observed in the Atlantic yet or not. Young lionfish have been seen going back years in this area suggesting that populations are reproducing. Some are aggressively harvesting (spearing)
lionfish when found in Atantic waters in an effort to try to reduce potential ecological damage from this invasive species. It is possible that the lionfish has no predators in the Atlantic unlike in its home waters. It could do a lot of damage, largely unpredictable at this point. Shooting them may make sense.
More about the Lionfish and appearance in western Atlantic waters at:
http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/gallery/d ... nfish.html
And envenomations (it seems reasonable to want to see a doctor in any case if you are stung):
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-11/j ... /index.php
Get used to the sight and prepare to intercede with caution as we continue to force the alteration of the Planet in an incredible variety of ways without thought or consideration of the consequences.
Take comfort in this parting point, only about 140,000 pythons have been brought into the USA. Who knows how many have been released into the "wild." Man's stupidity and indifference at times can be overwhelming.