Scientists say the discovery of a lionfish swimming about 40 miles off the coast of Texas could mean bad things for marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies recently released video footage of the first Lionfish - a highly venomous marine fish native to the western Pacific Ocean - spotted off the Texas coastline.
Aside from making their way into saltwater fish aquariums, Lionfish are not native to the waters of this hemisphere. But according to HRI researchers, the number of lionfish living in the Gulf is growing, mostly in waters between Louisiana and Florida. Here's what they say about the species:
Because they have few natural enemies, lionfish may negatively impact native species in the newly-invaded ecosystems.While lionfish do not pose a danger to beachgoers, they are a concern to fishermen and divers because of their venomous fin rays. A lionfish sting can cause extreme pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, breathing difficulties, convulsions, dizziness, and, in rare cases, can cause temporary paralysis of the limbs, heart failure, and death.
"The presence of invasive lionfish in our offshore waters is disconcerting due to their aggressive nature, high spawning activity, generalist diet, and because they lack many predators," says Dr. Matthew Ajemian in a prepared statement. "Reported sightings in the Texas coastal area are rather recent and, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first confirmed video documentation of a lionfish from the Texas coastal region. We will be continuing our ROV based surveys through next year. These continued surveys will allow us to examine the pervasiveness of these lionfish across dozens of artificial and natural reef locations off the Texas coast."
Go here to read more on what the new species could mean for the Gulf of Mexico and to view the recent footage of a lionfish captured off the coast of Corpus Christi.