Invasive lionfish a menace in Florida Keys

Feb. 8, 2010 at 11:55 AM
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KEY LARGO, Fla., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The red lionfish has invaded the waters in and around the Florida Keys, wreaking havoc on the island cluster's native fish populations, experts say.

Marine life collector Pete Kehoe said the primary issue regarding the appearance of the lionfish species in the Florida Keys is the creature's voracious appetite, The Miami Herald said Monday.

"I think a lot of people underestimate what the problem can be," Kehoe said. "I'm amazed. They are like the perfect eating machine. They eat until they are about to explode."

Since lionfish first appeared in the Florida Keys a year ago, more than 80 members of the invasive species have been spotted in the region.

Lad Akins, special projects manager for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation based in Key Largo, Fla., said it is unlikely experts will be able to completely eliminate the presence of lionfish from the Florida Keys.

"Control is possible in the Keys, especially if we pick important areas because they are utilized as tourist destinations or are ecologically important because of the diversity of fish," he told the Herald.

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