Lately on my dives, I have seen countless numbers of lionfish. Lionfish also known as Pterois, are very venomous. They release nitric oxide which effects the contractions of the heart muscles and can be especially dangerous to divers. Their venomous sting can cause respiratory distress and even paralysis in some cases. They have a very distinctive maroon colour with white stripes and unique tentacles full of poison.
Once I got back home, I did some research and found out that lionfish are actually an invasive species. They are a very popular aquarium fish and it has been speculated that the lionfish have been purposely discarded by humans into the ocean. The population density today is increasing so rapidly that some areas are even making efforts to keep it under control because they are a major threat to the ecological systems. Lionfish reproduce every month throughout the year which means that their population density needs to be maintained monthly. In areas like Mexico and Florida keys, divers have been given license to kill lionfish in order to control the expanding population. Many environmental foundations are even giving out reward money for the diver who kills the most lionfish. These poisonous beauties eat over 50 species of fish and have very few predators. This causes a major disruption in the food web if they are overpopulated and will decrease the reef diversity by 80 percent. And if this continues ecosystems around the world may not be maintained at a healthy level.