Lionfish join North American obesity ranks

Lionfish are taking a “when in Rome” approach to their North American invasion: they’re becoming overeaters.

Christie Wilcox (@nerdychristie), a Ph.D candidate at the University of Hawaii researching the lionfish scourge (more specifically, she researches cell & molecular biology with a focus on the toxins of venomous fish, e.g., lionfish) writes on Slate.com:

“No, not overweight,” he says. “Obese.” The fish we’re examining is so obese, he notes, that there are even signs of liver damage.

Obese. As if the lionfish problem in North Carolina wasn’t bad enough.

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As James Morris and I measured and sliced 247 fish last month, he explained that we have to monitor their diets to understand how lionfish may impact native fish.

So far, more than 70 different species have been found in the stomachs of invasive lionfish, but detailed data on what they regularly eat in many different areas and throughout the year hasn’t been collected—yet. That’s one of the questions Morris is in the process of answering, and that’s what I helped him with while I was in North Carolina collecting samples for my own research on lionfish venom.

Read Christie Wilcox’s full article, ‘The Worst Marine Invasion Ever,’ on Slate.com here.

Visit SWJ’s lionfish primer, ‘Got Lionfish?’

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