The lionfish has some familiar company in the waters of Florida, according to the US Geological Survey. After an absence of as long as 19 years, three non-native marine fishes native to the Indo-Pacific (just like the lionfish) were discovered off southeastern Florida.
The Panther grouper (Chromileptes altivelis), Spotted scat (Scatophagus argus) and Yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) were reported from West Palm, Stuart and Pompano Beach, with the grouper last seen in 2007, the tang in 2005 and the scat in 1992.
According to USGS biologist Dr. Pam Schofield: "These fishes constitute a type of biological pollution. They don't belong here, and have the potential to damage the ecosystem." The three species are among others blacklisted by the USGS as possible invasive threats to Florida's coastal waters.
Although it is not immediately obvious as to the source of these invasions, the most likely culprit is from the release of unwanted aquarium fish.
To prevent a recurrence of the runaway lionfish invasion, the USGS is proactively working on the rapid detection and removal of non-native marine fish species from the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the southern United States.
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