An invasive species of lionfish has become rife in the waters of the Mediterranean region. The warm temperatures have led to this marine species entering this novel habitat.
The warmer temperature of the sea surrounding the Suez Canal is forcing several species of lionfish to invade the waterways and cause problems for the normally balanced ecosystem of the area. Besides the ecological upsetting of the food webs, this invasion by the lionfish also has social and economic effects on the region.
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Divers and fishermen in the area have told tales regarding the colonization of the waters by this species of lionfish. The sea surrounding Cyprus has started to teem with this poisonous and predatory fish.
This may as well be the beginning of a large scale invasion of the entire Atlantic Ocean by these lionfish which are nothing but a nuisance. The erosion and hollowing of thee Suez Canal has led to such a condition. It is partly to blame for the phenomenon.
The report was published in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records. It was written by Mr Demetris Kletou, of the Environmental Research Lab, in Limassol, Cyprus; and Professor Jason Hall Spencer, of the School of Marine Science and Engineering at Plymouth University..
This alien lionfish has been termed Pterois miles. Whether this lionfish invades the Mediterranean like it did the Western Atlantic Ocean remains a moot point. However, one thing is for sure. The quantity of lionfish has increased in the region. The warming of the sea is also a cause of this invasion.
"Until now, few sightings of the alien lionfish Pterois miles have been reported in the Mediterranean and it was questionable whether the species could invade this region like it has in the western Atlantic," says Mr Kletou.
"But we've found that lionfish have recently increased in abundance, and within a year have colonised almost the entire south eastern coast of Cyprus, assisted by sea surface warming."
Lionfish are meat-eaters and feed regularily on several other fish as well as crustaceans. Every four days or so, the females lay eggs and the males produce the sperm which go on to allow the gelatinous primal ooze-like material to develop into fish.
Later on when they are adults, they wreak havoc with the environmental milieu of the sea they inhabit. Lionfish reduce the biodiversity in a region and they multiply like rabbits.
The poisonous spines they have on their bodies are a constant danger too. Besides the observations of divers and fishermen, there have been sightings from cameras which lend further proof to this massive invasion of lionfish in the waters.
The coastal region of Cyprus is especially very vulnerable to these nasty and voracious fish. 24 new sightings by several individuals were noted down by the marine authorities.
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Measures will have to be taken to prevent any further onslaught by lionfish. Otherwise we are looking at a disruption of the eco-webs of the region. Nobody would want such a scenario to take place.