Lionfish threaten Long Island waters

September 8, 2006

Scientists are investigating how a flamboyant tropical fish native to the Pacific Ocean is surviving in the chilly waters off New York's Long Island.

Divers have captured hundreds of lionfish this summer in what a biologist terms "a population explosion," The New York Times reports.

Known for its brightly colored stripes and multitude of venomous spines, the lionfish is a voracious eater and could pose a threat to indigenous fish, the newspaper said.

Todd R. Gardner, a biologist at Atlantis Marine World aquarium in Riverhead, N.Y., discovered lionfish were spawning in the Atlantic five years ago when he found one clinging to a dock piling by Fire Island. The Times said Gardner has been studying them since then along with biologist Paula Whitfield of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Besides threatening Long Island's shellfish and fin fish, humans can receive a painful sting from the spines of a lionfish.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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