The Pterois, also known as the Indo-Pacific lionfish, is a beautiful sight to behold. The abundance of red stripes and spiky fins often make the fish look like the flashy burlesque performer of the deep. However, in addition to being visually stunning, it turns out that these attention-grabbing fish are also top-notch predators – and it might just be throwing off their ecosystem.
In a recent study conducted through Oregon State University, researchers found that the lionfish species were positively depleting the fish they prey on in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
The scientists studied the small fairy basslet, a fish that is commonly preyed upon by the non-indigenous lionfish. Researchers found that in reefs where lionfish were present, basslet mortality rates were four times higher than in those reefs where the basslet only had to contend with other native predatory fish.