Venom, Spikes and Stripes

Some invasive species are innocuous and easily overlooked. Others are so stunning it's difficult to understand how they could have invaded without notice.

It's up to all of us to stay vigilant about invasive species whether they are boring or brilliant.

How can you help?

Report any new or expanded invasive species outbreaks to authorities in your area.

The Red Lionfish, Pterois voilatans, is hard to miss. A gorgeous exotic that can grow to 17 inches or more, this saltwater reef fish is native to west Pacific waters.

It's not known precisely how they first appeared in the Gulf of Mexico although both intentional aquarium releases or a single large release during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 have been suggested. 

However they made it into the Atlantic, by 2010 they were present in the Flower Garden Banks sanctuary off the Texas' coast. Unfortunately, their numbers have continued to grow exponentially.

As with many invasive species, lionfish can devastate the areas they colonize. They out-compete native species due to their aggression, opportunistic feeding habits and prodigious breeding ability. In addition the lionfish is venomous - although reportedly delicious!

More reading on the Lionfish in Texas:

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