The Prettiest Invasive Species

They were in Bermuda when we last went on expedition there and they recently arrived in Roatan, Honduras. They’re beautiful, they have poisonous spines and they eat everything on the reef. With what seems to be no natural predators, the Lionfish (Pterois volitans) is an Indo-pacific species that is taking the Caribbean by storm.


Since their arrival in the Bahamas five or more years ago, they have become extremely common. They reproduce quickly and have no known local predators. We have seen them on every dive and snorkel we have taken since arriving here.


Their insouciance and feathery fins make them an ideal photo-op, but behind each photo is a trail of death and destruction. While we were here a group from the National Aquarium in Washington, DC and was hunting Lionfish with nets and spears in an attempt to stem their spread. A typical day’s catch was 50-70 fish or more. Some dives were aborted when the local sharks became interested in the activity. Unfortunately, the sharks seemed entirely uninterested in consuming the Lionfish.


It’s hard to imagine these fish not remaining endemic in the Caribbean. One last hope may be to promote Lionfish as a tasty meal, which apparently they are, but even then the odds seem to be against it. In Honduras, where they have just arrived, efforts are underway to eradicate them before they become established. Hopefully they have some success.

One Response to “The Prettiest Invasive Species”

  1. Die, Lionfish, Die | Les Fruits De Mer Says:

    […] group. This is probably going to be about the only time we advocate fish killing here, but it is a special situation and it seems that the only chance we have of limiting their spread is human […]