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Venomous lionfish are invading the Mediterranean Sea

Amsterdam, Apr 25 (Prensa Latina) In a study, researchers from Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands, have published an invasion of lionfish in the Mediterranean Sea, highlighting a rapid spread and possible ecological impacts, the journal NeoBiota published on Thursday.

The research showed that the lionfish species Pterois miles has significantly expanded its territory in the Mediterranean since they first invaded the region around 10 years ago.

According to experts, the invasive species has established presence in the eastern Mediterranean, with observations now extending to colder waters previously thought to be unsuitable for the species.

Originating from the Indo-Pacific region, the lionfish species Pterois miles and Pterois volitans are regarded as the most successful invasive fishes in marine ecosystems, with the capacity to drastically affect local fish communities and biodiversity in invaded areas.

Lionfish are generalist predators and impact ecosystems by preying extensively on local fishes, including endemics of high conservation value.

As they are unaccustomed to lionfish, native prey species usually do not flee from this new predator.

“After years studying these predators, I find it amazing how they can easily adjust to so many different environments and be successful in areas that are so different from the ones where they evolve,” says lead author Davide Bottacini.

“It is always impressive to see how such a flamboyant and–to us–conspicuous predator can approach its prey without being noticed,” he continues.

Genetic studies revealed that lionfish found in the Mediterranean originate from the Red Sea and likely entered through the Suez Canal.

Through a detailed review of existing scientific data, the researchers identified gaps in our understanding of the lionfish’s interactions with Mediterranean ecosystems and have proposed future research directions to address these challenges.

They asserted that such information provides insights vital for biodiversity conservation and will have practical implications for policy makers aiming to devise sound and efficient mitigation plans.