Lionfish spotted off the coast of Italy


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Common lionfish, Pterois miles . Image by Magnus Kjaergaard, Creative Commons

An alien lionfish has been recorded off the coast of Italy for the first time.

The specimen of Pterois miles was recorded by marine biologists in the Vendicari marine reserve in the south-east of Sicily.

Pterois volitans and P. miles, are among the most invasive marine species in the world. Native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the lionfish was introduced to Florida in the early 90s and has slowly spread across the Caribbean and most of the western Atlantic coastline, with huge ecological impacts. 

The specimen observed at Vendicari represented the first known occurrence of a lionfish species in Italian waters. “Its observation confirms a trend of rapid expansion through the Mediterranean Sea,” scientists say in a paper published in BioInvasions Records.

“Given its large size, conspicuous appearance, and venomous spines, it is critical to involve informed citizen scientists in tracking the spread of this species and to develop means to manage or adapt to its presence in the Mediterranean Basin.”