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Lionfish Invasion In The Mediterranean Sea May Devastate Marine Life

First Posted: Jun 30, 2016 06:49 AM EDT

The beautiful yet deadly lionfish have attacked the Mediterranean Sea. This raises fears of environmental and marine life devastation, according to research.

The study was printed in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records. The researchers said that evidence gathered from fishermen and divers showed that the poisonous lionfish had colonized part of the Cyprus coast in just a year that came through the Suez Canal, according to Independent.

Demetris Kletou, the lead author of the study and the director of the Marine and Environmental Research Lab in Cypress said that the lionfish were first seen in the Mediterranean in the 1990s. On the other hand, the sightings were few and far between and there was no evidence indicating that the animals were breeding successfully in the area, as noted by Live Science.

In the new study, Kletou and his team gathered 24 new sightings of at least 19 individual fish. These include mating pairs, which were spotted in Mediterranean waters for the first time. Lionfish can reproduce every four days year-round and can deliver over 2 million eggs per year. With this and their venomous spines to protect them, they can quickly dominate the reef environment. Kletou explained that when the sightings become frequent and expand geographically and when lionfish form reproductive groups, and then it is a reason to worry.

The researchers spotted the common lionfish (Pterois miles) in the Mediterranean. It is a close relative of the red lionfish (Pterois volitans). The common lionfish threatens the reef ecosystems in coastal waters in the southeastern U.S. and in the Caribbean Sea.

The lionfish may range from 5 to 45 cm (2.0 to 17.7 inches) in length. It weighs about 0.025 to1.3 kg (0.055to 2.866 lb.). They are known for their beauty, colors, unique tentacles and venomous spines. Their spines protect them from their predators. On the other hand, its sting is tremendously painful and may even cause paralysis, cardiac arrest and occasionally death.

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