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An Integrated Assessment of the Introduction of Lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles complex) to the Western Atlantic Ocean

Author(s): Hare, Jonathan A. and Paula E. Whitfield.


Center Team: Beaufort

Publication Type: Journal Article

Journal Title: NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS

Date of Publication: 2003

Reference Information: NCCOS-2 1-21.

Keywords: CCFHR, Resource and land use, Estuaries, Invasive species, NOAA Oceans

Abstract: Lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles complex) are venomous coral reef fishes from the Indian and western Pacific oceans that are now found in the western Atlantic Ocean. Adult lionfish have been observed from Miami, Florida to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and juvenile lionfish have been observed off North Carolina, New York, and Bermuda. The large number of adults observed and the occurrence of juveniles indicate that lionfish are established and reproducing along the southeast United States coast. Introductions of marine species occur in many ways. Ballast water discharge, a very common method of introduction for marine invertebrates, is responsible for many freshwater fish introductions. In contrast, most marine fish introductions result from intentional stocking for fishery purposes. Lionfish, however, likely were introduced via unintentional or intentional aquarium releases, and the introduction of lionfish into United States waters should lead to an assessment of the threat posed by the aquarium trade as a vector for fish introductions.