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There’s an invasion underway in Florida.  Deadly lionfish have invaded the Atlantic Ocean. Below is a photo from the USDA website, taken by Paula Whitfield, NOAA, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research.

Lionfish about 40 miles off the North Carolina coast

Lionfish about 40 miles off the North Carolina coast

They’re natives of the Pacific Ocean, where they have natural predators to keep their numbers at bay. In the Atlantic, with no enemies, the lionfish population is exploding. Not only do they eat Florida’s natural reef fish and harm the local ecosystem, they can injure or even kill people swimming or diving in the Atlantic Ocean. A lionfish’s sting is extremely painful and serious, and there’s no anti-venom.

So how did the lionfish get all the way to Florida?

They’re beautiful fish–and people want them in their aquariums. But when they get too big, they’re often dumped right in the ocean or local estruaries. 

Banning the sale of these lovely-but-deadly invasives is one way to help. 

After all, that’s how many invasive species get their start. People bring plants or animals from other locations without realizing the potential consequences.

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