The problem of invasive species continues as the lionfish have recently begun colonizing the coastline of Cyprus. Scientists are worried that these species of fish will become widely spread in the Mediterranean Sea, damaging the environment, especially coral reefs.
Lionfish, also known as Pterois miles, is a predatory fish that feeds on crustaceans and other species of fish. These fish reproduce at every four days and lay two million eggs every year. These eggs are usually carried by ocean currents for about a month, thus spreading in the waters.
Worse, lionfish are poisonous, thus dangerous for humans as well. If these fish get into contact with people, they can cause skin damage. Based on the statistics lionfish have spread over the last few years on several parts of the Western Atlantic as well.
This is highly concerning as scientists and fishermen communities are doing their best to preserve the species living in these waters and the coral reefs. According to Dr. Jason Hall-Spencer, a professor of marine science and engineering at Plymouth University, it is the first time when lionfish appear in the Mediterranean Sea.
Their mating behavior concerns scientists who are currently trying to find the best solution to deal with this problem. Fortunately, experts have previously managed to remove lionfish populations from the Caribbean waters.
Officials will double their efforts to prevent this invasive species from using the Suez Canal to spread in the Mediterranean waters. Based on the data collected from fishermen, spear fishers, and divers who encountered lionfish in the coastal waters near Cyprus, researchers from Plymouth University will come up with the best strategy to tackle this predatory fish.
Starting from 2015 lionfish have spread on an 80-mile area on the southeastern coastline of Cyprus from Limassol to Protaras. More than 23 specimens have been recently seen by people, and the number is expected to increase.
According to Demetris Kletou, a doctoral student from the Marine and Environmental Research Lab at Plymouth University, the warm temperatures were ideal for this predatory fish that thrives in Cyprus waters.
They also dominate native species leading to a critical imbalance in the marine ecosystem. Scientists and officials need to take active measures as soon as possible to stop the spread of the lionfish and other invasive species.