Invasive fish spotted off Texas coast

Lionfish are threatening to native fish, coral reefs

Author: Jennifer Bauer, Reporter, jbauer@kprc.com
Published On: Sep 27 2012 05:57:29 PM CDT
Lionfish
PORT ARANSAS, Texas -

Scientists with the Harte Research Institute recently captured video of an invasive fish in the Gulf of Mexico near Port Aransas. 

The lionfish are beautiful and vibrant in color but they are very destructive to native fish and coral reefs. It's unclear how they got into the Gulf in the first place. 

"They are slowly making their way from Florida up to New Jersey and now they're starting to make their way through the Gulf," Houston Zoo Aquarium Curator George Brandy said.  "These guys don't have any natural predators so they are able to pick off some of the smaller fish and that's going to cause a collapse of some of the smaller fisheries."

Brandy said the concern is that the lionfish will decimate the native fish population in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Larry McKinney with the Hart Research Institute told KPRC Local 2 by phone that several days after the first spotting, scientists saw another lionfish.  It was about 10 miles away from the original spot and 40 miles off the coast.  McKinney said there is no way to successfully control them. For now, all researchers can do is continue to survey the area and monitor the situation.