We document the continued population expansion of red lionfish, Pterois volitans, the first documented successful introduction of an invasive marine fish species from the western Pacific to Atlantic coastal waters of the United States. Red lionfish are indigenous to the Indo-Pacific and have apparently established one or more breeding populations on reefs off the southeastern United States. Fifty-nine specimens, most presumably adult red lionfish, were documented or collected on live-bottom reefs off North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, and on a manmade structure off Georgia. Observation/collection depths and bottom water temperatures for these fish ranged from 40-99 m and 13.8-24.4??C, respectively. Eleven juvenile lionfish, believed to be expatriated from southeastern waters, were collected in estuaries along the coast of Long Island, NY, at depths of 0-5 m and water temperatures ranging from 13.8-16.5??C. Twelve of the total 70 specimens collected or observed were positively identified as red lionfish. Based on histological assessment of gonad tissue, two reproductively-active males and one immature female were collected. The life history of red lionfish, especially their reproductive biology and food habits, should be investigated along the east coast of the US to determine the potential impacts of this species on ecosystems they have invaded.
Additional publication details
Further evidence for the invasion and establishment of Pterois volitans (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae) along the Atlantic Coast of the United States