Nature Research Center

Aliens Invade Our Coast

Beautiful but venomous, Indo-Pacific lionfish have, in recent years, been rapidly spreading along the Atlantic coast. Sightings of lionfish have been reported off the East Coast since 1995, and in North Carolina since 2000. Hundreds have since been collected at sites from Venezuela north to Long Island. Lionfish are a popular saltwater aquarium fish, and it is likely that the invasion started when aquarium lionfish were released off of the Florida coast. Lionfish have no natural predators here, and are themselves voracious predators, out-competing native fish like grouper and snapper and damaging local ecosystems.