Poisonous Invader Cruises Caribbean

By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2008 6:45 PM CDT
In this image released by NOAA Undersea Research Center, a lionfish swims at a depth of about 130 feet, roughly 55 miles off the coast of North Carolina, in July, 2006.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A poisonous, fast-multiplying species known as the red lionfish has invaded the warm waters of the Caribbean and poses a serious threat to the native sealife and the fragile ecosytem, reports the AP. "This may very well become the most devastating marine invasion in history," said one expert. Scientists think the ravenous lionfish got a foothold when Hurricane Andrew shattered a private aquarium in 1992.

Islands in the northern Caribbean have asked fishermen to try to kill the predator, and it wants divers, many of whom have been stung by the fish's venomous spikes, to report any sitings. The hope is to contain the fish before it reaches Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where fisheries and recreational diving would likely take a big hit.