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Terminator Fish

August 19, 2014

The red lionfish is hunting small reef fish to local extinctions.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

An insatiable predator. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The red lionfish is a gaudy Pacific Ocean dweller that’s invaded the southern Atlantic and is decimating the local fish population. Oregon State University marine ecologist Kurt Ingeman reports that while most predators select prey that’s plentiful and move on to new areas once they’re scarce, lionfish stick around—sometimes until they’ve eaten the last fish.

KURT INGEMAN (Oregon State University):

They may just be sweeping through their environment and picking off prey even if there are just a few individuals in a little population. So this is somewhat alarming for us.

HIRSHON:

He and his colleagues are trying to determine if it’s just the way lionfish behave, or if it’s because little fish in the Atlantic don’t hide from them.

KURT INGEMAN:

They may actually be out in the open and exposed to predation just because they don’t perceive lionfish as a predation threat.

HIRSHON:

He says understanding lionfish behavior will be critical to controlling them. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.