Development & Aid, Environment, Tierramerica - Ecobrief

Ecobreves – VENEZUELA: Lionfish Confirmed as Voracious Predator

CARACAS, Oct 15 2012 (IPS) - The red lionfish (Pterois volitans), a species native to the Pacific Ocean that escaped from aquariums in the Caribbean Sea two decades ago, is advancing on fish stocks and devouring young specimens of dozens of species in the waters off northern Venezuela. “Our study on the diet of the red lionfish found traces of small specimens of 17 families of fish and seven groups of crustaceans in the stomachs of 216 lionfish captured in 2011 in Chichiriviche,” a town in northeastern Venezuela, said biologist Carlos Brett from Simón Bolívar University.

Smaller lionfish specimens feed mainly on shrimp, but the larger ones “eat practically everything that crosses their path,” Brett told Tierramérica.

Venezuela’s fish stocks are shrinking due to problems that range from overfishing to global warming, and now include the threat posed by invasive species like the lionfish, which is protected by its poisonous spines and an absence of natural predators.

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