Over the past three years, Lionfish have made their presence known in eastern Carolina. During that time period, the species, native to the southeastern Pacific Ocean, have invaded the waters from Florida to Cape Hatteras. Marine biologists from UNC Wilmington, Oregon State and NOAA are concerned that, if left unchecked, the fish could threaten native reef fish including Snapper and Grouper as well as significantly disrupting reef conservation efforts.
Lionfish are the first known species of fish to successfully make the transition from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. They are known for their long, venomous spines and aggressive nature. The lack of natural predators along the Atlantic coast has only bolstered their rapid expansion in to eastern Carolina waters.
Researchers have already started Lionfish removal efforts and encourage fishing of the species.