Posted: Oct 11, 2012 9:51 PM by Morgan Frances - MFrances@kristv.com
Updated: Oct 11, 2012 11:08 PM
There's an unusual-looking fish that has made it's way into the Gulf of Mexico that could pose a major threat to marine life. The Lionfish has beautiful stripes, flowing fins and, although it looks cool, it's actually known as a voracious predator.
Director of Animal Husbandry Jesse Gilbert described, "They're kind of an ambush predator so they kind of lay and wait like they are in the exhibit. They kind of lay around the rocks and then as something small swims by like a crab or shrimp they quickly snatch it up."
Additionally, the species has a venomous spine that can be fatal to other fish that try to eat it. Although the Lionfish isn't normally seen in the Gulf, there are new reports showing that it's starting to migrate.
Native to the Indo-Pacific waters off the coast of Asia, the Lionfish started showing up in the Caribbean in the 1980's and, just recently, the Harte Research Institute at Corpus Christi Texas A&M captured the first documented video confirmation that the species is just 40 miles off the Texas coast. So what's the big deal?
Lee Fuiman, Professor at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute said, "It is a voracious predator. Its prey have not adapted to its way of hunting and there are no predators around that have adapted to feeding on it so it has free reign."
Free reign to eat just about anything. Since other fish don't seem to have an appetite for the Lionfish, the species could flourish posing a major threat to native marine life.
To protect the future of the ecology waters along the Texas coast, there is one short-term solution to this growing problem that seems to be gaining some traction.
"If we can harvest it and create a market for it then we can go out and harvest them and reduce the populations in the wild," suggested Fuiman.
Which means you could be seeing the Lionfish sometime soon in a restaurant near you.
Do you have a tip, information about a breaking news story, or a story idea for 6 Investigates? Contact the KRIS 6 News Desk at 361-884-6666 or send us an email.
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