Marina, California. It’s no breaking news that the red lionfish (Pterois volitans), a native to the Indo-Pacific, is making itself comfortably at home as an invasive transplant to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. After first appearing on Atlantic reefs about a decade ago, the fish is now commonly encountered throughout the region, leaving little hope of restricting it’s unwelcome range expansion.
The Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute listserv often discusses the fish and the many problems and concerns associated with it. On one such recent conversation, Michael Barnette of the Association of Underwater Explorers posted the pictures associated with this blog post. The photos were taken at a depth of 250ft of water on a shipwreck located 100 nautical miles west of Naples, Florida. These amazing images clearly demonstrate how abundant this fish has become in Gulf of Mexico waters. For a fish that isn’t even supposed to be there, there sure are a lot of them!