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The red lionfish (Pterois volitans L.) is a venomous coral reef fish that has become a problematic invasive species in the Caribbean. The fish has no predators because of its venomous spines, and it can quickly take over a reef environment and displace native species. Lionfish were first introduced to the Atlantic in the mid-1990's, it is thought by an unsatisfied aquarium enthusiast who emptied his tank off the coast of Florida. By 2004, the species had colonized reefs in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, Belize and Mexico, and local lionfish populations were thriving. 

The sign shown above was seen on my recent trip to Vieques (see Vieques and Descontaminación, Rescate y Desarollo). It reads: "Lion Fish. Poisonous! Reproduces very fast. Destroys the reefs. Eats fish vital for the ecosystem". A recent study suggests that you would need to harvest almost 30% of the population every month to keep this fish under control.  [NOTE: Love the drawing of the fish on the sign].

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