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10 Sep 2008

The Red Lion fish, native of the Western Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, has been growing in population in the Atlantic Ocean.  The Red Lion fish is a member of the scorpion fish family and protects itself through its venomous spines.

Scientists believe the fish was released from household pets as they overgrew the tanks.  (Sound familiar to those in south Florida dealing with Iguanas, boa constrictors and other non-native animals?)

The Red Lion fish has been growing in population from Massachusetts down to West Palm Beach and is especially prevalent in the Bahamas.  Since there is no known predator to the fish, scientists are doing research to find out how to control the population.

Scientists have found large quantities of reef fish and crustaceans in the stomachs of these fish.  Everything from shrimp, seahorses, to a juvenile grouper is fare game to these fish.  They will eat anything that fits in their mouths.

If you would like to find out more about the efforts that are being made to control this species, visit www.reef.org/programs/exotic

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