Our speakers were Graham Maddocks owner of Triangle Diving and Chris Flook head collector of the Bermuda Aquarium.    Their study is the first to measure the severity of the crisis posed by this invasive species, which is native to the tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean and has few natural enemies to help control it in the <st1:place w:st="on">Atlantic Ocean. 


It is believed that the first lionfish -- a beautiful fish with dramatic coloring and large, spiny fins -- were introduced into marine waters off <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Florida in the early 1990s from local aquariums or fish hobbyists. They have since spread across much of the Caribbean Sea and north along the <st1:country-region w:st="on">United States</st1:country-region> coast as far as <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Rhode Island. 


The invasion of predatory lionfish in the Caribbean and <st1:place w:st="on">Atlantic Ocean region poses yet another major threat there to coral reef ecosystems -- a new study has found that within a short period after the entry of lionfish into an area, the survival of other reef fishes is slashed by about 80 percent.  

In studies by marine biologist’s it was determined that lionfish reduced young juvenile fish populations by 79 percent in only a five-week period. Many species were affected, including cardinalfish, parrotfish, damselfish and others. One large lionfish was observed consuming 20 small fish in a 30-minute period. Lionfish are carnivores that can eat other fish up to two-thirds their own length, furthermore lionfish lay about 30,000 eggs every 4 days  


We are seeing lionfish more and more on all our dive sites, they are here NOW! In 2004 they were first seen on the reefs in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Bahamas</st1:country-region> now it is the most prolific fish. 


The first lionfish was seen in <st1:place w:st="on">Bermuda in 2002 but quick action was taken establishing a culling programme and encouraging fishermen to target them. Government has amended lobster trap regulations to allow lobster fishermen to sell any lionfish caught in the traps, but fisherman are still reluctant to catch the animals because they have a reputation as being poisonous.  However, Chris said the poison is located only in its spines and said the venom is rendered harmless by freezing or cooking. Being stung several times, he compared the pain to a bee sting, saying: “It improves your reflexes and teaches you a few new swear words, but that’s it.” 


In Conclusion, Lionfish will have a devastating affect on the reefs around <st1:place w:st="on">Bermuda. Our native fish do not see the lion fish as a threat which makes the problem even worse.  They have no natural predators even sharks leave them alone.  The only predator is humans and so we need to “eat them to beat them”.  They are an extremely good source of Omega3 and are less likely to store toxins as they grow so quickly.   


We have created a foundation called, the Ocean Support Foundation (OSF) too respond too the alarming threat of the lionfish’s over population, are aim to is too raise finical revenue in order too battle the lionfish threat, unfortunately we can not wait any longer for something too be done, we must act a<st1:PersonName w:st="on">ccordingly in order to save are local fish stocks from hitting the point of no return. Because of Bermuda’s unique geological location being so isolated, this will give us a technical advantage, which the <st1:place w:st="on">Caribbean doesn’t have. In addition we must educate are community, too help stop this intensification of these killer species.