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Fish Roundup

August 15, 2008

The beautiful but invasive lionfish is wreaking havoc on its adopted ecosystems.


A dangerous alien in US waters. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Lionfish are popular in saltwater aquariums, because of their beauty, and their venomous spines, which make them great conversation starters. The fish are native to the Pacific, where there are predators that can tolerate their venom. But lionfish have now been introduced to the waters off Florida, where they are breeding like crazy, and gobbling up millions of smaller fish—fish that nibble algae and keep the coral reefs from getting smothered in it. Scientists are considering bringing in predator fish from the Pacific to control the lionfish and save the reefs.

In other news, Swedish scientists report that they have found a new link between fish and land animals. Ventastega, which looked like a big, toothy salamander, had a shoulder and pelvis that are perfect transitions between more primitive fish and more modern land animals. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.