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Do Grouper Eat Lionfish

author
Ellen Grant
• Thursday, 03 December, 2020
• 7 min read

With a little help from a big friend you will see in the video below a Nassau grouper eating a small healthy lionfish. Is this one tiny step towards groupers naturally controlling lionfish ?.

fish grouper eating lion
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Contents

On Little Cayman where they do have some very diver friendly Nassau groupers I believe it is a little more than a tiny step for their little island. The lionfish will turns its head away from a potential predator and splay out all its 18 venomous spines.

If it is grabbed or ends up inside a predators mouth those spines can do a lot of damage and they pack a venomous punch. I used to live in Bristol, England but after a change in direction we moved overseas to work in the scuba diving industry.

I’m a dive instructor, working for Tortuga Divers, part of the Red Sail group. From our FAQ page, “Natural predators in the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea that are known to lionfish include sharks, cornet fish, grouper, large eels, frog fish and other scorpion fish.

There is speculation that large snapper and some species of trigger fish lionfish in their native ranges as well.” But these are all examples of opportunistic feeding with human interaction and not true natural predation of lionfish.

Recently Roman Muñoz, a research fishery biologist for NOAA, published a paper documenting the discovery of a spotted Moray eel that was brought up far offshore of Jacksonville, FL that coughed up a lionfish when it landed on deck. This is the first verified example of natural predation of the invasive lionfish in the Atlantic Ocean because the Moray was found in an area where divers would not have been hunting.

grouper lionfish eats
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Great question, I’ve seen grown men cry from a lionfish sting so it’s no joke, how can other fish eat them without suffering? The best answer we’ve heard is that because fish are cold-blooded the venom does not have as much effect as it does on a warm-blooded animal.

Hart believes this could be the first recorded encounter of a grouper eating a lionfish without human intervention. Lionfish are considered an invasive species, introduced to the southeastern Atlantic Ocean by the U.S. Aquarium trade in the 1980s, NOAA reports.

Coastal water managers and NOAA are working together to study lionfish, hoping to eventually control them and keep them away from conservation areas. A red lionfish swims in the aquarium of the Schonbrunn zoo in the gardens of the Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna on Oct. 16, 2012.

It was that year that, according to the leading theory, someone released a dozen or so lionfish from a home aquarium into south Florida waters. Ruthless predators with a voracious appetite, invasive lionfish are known to gobble up to nine-tenths of the small and juvenile fish within a coral reef, throwing whole ecosystems out of whack.

A big part of this controversy swivels on the worry that munching on lionfish could be dangerous to the predators themselves. But as you’ll note in the video, the lionfish cruises into the open water, turning its back on the larger fish.

grouper goliath lionfish eating
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Scientists’ best guess is that parasites keep their numbers in check, as well as a huge population of tropical sea creatures that like to lionfish eggs and larva. Without any fish to eat them, colonies of future baby lionfish keep riding the current further up into the Gulf of Mexico and down the coast of Latin America toward Brazil.

They are expected to have many negative impacts on the Caribbean coral reefs, but it is unclear how we can control this invasion. Mummy et al. 2011 performed a small scale study and found fewer lionfish on sites within Extra Cays Land and Sea Park that have a lot of grouper.

Hacker et al. 2013 performed a large scale analysis and found no relationship between the amount of lionfish and grouper. They concluded that native predators (like grouper) are not controlling lionfish, but that active management (like removing them from reefs) can reduce their abundance.

However, Mummy et al.’s claims were false and Hacker et al. support their initial conclusions in a second response paper. One of Mummy et al.’s main critiques was that Hacker et al. did not include other important factors that could control lionfish.

However, the goals of Hacker et al. were to determine how predators, as well as other factors, influenced lionfish, so this claim is just not true. In their response, they added two additional variables, but this did not change their initial conclusions: predators had no effect on lionfish.

lionfish grouper invasive water dailypedia
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Therefore, this “relationship” that Mummy et al. proposed was due to protection status, not the amount of grouper, as initially explained in Hacker et al. 2013. Therefore, native predators are not a reliable control for the lionfish invasion across the Caribbean region.

Another key difference is that Hacker et al. 2013 included other variables, besides the amount of predators, that could control lionfish. For example, Hacker et al. found that there were fewer lionfish in marine protected areas, yet this relationship had nothing to do with the amount of predators.

It is possible that factors other than grouper abundance are important in the relationship found by Mummy et al., but further analysis would be necessary to test this. The important thing is that this predation pressure is not large enough, compared to other factors, to control invasive lionfish across the Caribbean.

Protecting and restoring predator populations is extremely important, but that will not help mitigate the lionfish invasion. Tags: Bahamas, Caribbean, Extra Cays Land and Sea Park, Great Debate, Grouper, Lionfish.

This topic has been coming up frequently in South Florida since our waters are filled with the invasive lionfish species. It is a great seafood choice because by eliminating the non-native lionfish species helps save our beautiful reefs and the native fish can improve from the environmental burdens.

pet grouper lionfish
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Basically, by selecting lionfish as your entrée choice, you are putting money back in to the local South Florida economy, joining a vital cause and supporting worthy people all at the same time! “ Lionfish is a white flaky fish, firmer in texture than halibut, no “red line” with a flavor profile somewhere between a thin grouper fillet and mahi (dolphin fish) with a touch of bitterness.” The most common methods to lionfish seem to be in ceviche, fried or raw, sushi or sashimi-style.

See More In grouper, lionfish Like a dog chasing a snack from its owner's hand, this grouper won't let the intruding scuba divers take its lunch -- a tasty little Lionfish -- home with them. This grouper knows that immature Lionfish are a tasty treat, and he goes after this one, plastic bag and all.

Germans announced it will begin selling lionfish at its stores in six states. The ornate species with spines looks as if it should be swimming in a tank or an aquarium.

But that's not stopping grocery chains such as Germans from carrying the invasive fish in its seafood departments. Germans announced Thursday it is selling lionfish in stores in six states including the one it operates in Silver Spring Township.

The chain said it has partnered with Wild Fish Direct to bring lionfish to market in the Northeast, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to issue a statewide hunting competition to help reduce the lionfish population. “We do our part to source seafood responsibly, and by introducing Lionfish in the markets we serve, we're also helping control the population to protect the gulf reefs for the future,” said Mark Fromm, Germans seafood category merchant in a press statement.

lionfish grouper
(Source: www.youtube.com)

It sells for $12.99 a pound at the Germans in Silver Spring Township. The mythical tale is that the current lionfish invasion began in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew rolled through Florida and smashed up an aquarium in Biscayne Bay.

This story persists, even though the fish were actually first seen off the coast of Miami years before, and the biologist who suggested that theory has since discounted it. It’s much more likely that this lionfish invasion started when disgruntled aquarium owners purchased a lionfish, discovered that the fish had a voracious appetite for their other favorite fish in the tank, and opted to dump their new purchase into the ocean.

Once there were enough free fish to find each other and breed, the stage was set for one of the most epic invasions ever observed. They are also suction feeding fish, meaning when they open their mouths, water rushes inside, “so the lionfish basically turns into the death star and it has this tractor beam.

Luckily, they have one weakness we humans love to exploit: every fish yields two tasty fillets. Lionfish meat has been compared to dogfish which is a cross between lobster and shrimp, grouper, snapper, and any number of things, but I would say that as a New Englander with a not terribly refined palate for such things, the fish tasted like any number of flaky white fish that you can get at the grocery store.

As far as I can tell, the primary knock against the eating of lionfish is that it’s simply not an effective way to combat the invasion. We cooked the lionfish two ways: baked in butter, lemon, shallots, and white wine; and Spicy Grilled style.

lionfish grouper tail fuzzy dwarf eat
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Sam Evans-Brown & Logan Shannon with help from Maureen Murray, Taylor Quincy, Molly Donahue, and Jimmy Gutierrez. This week’s episode featured tracks from Blue Dot Sessions and David Siesta.

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Sources
1 theintrepidangler.com - http://theintrepidangler.com/100-miles-out-offshore-grouper-snapper-fishing-southwest-florida/
2 www.theguardian.com - https://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2014/aug/21/huge-fish-eats-shark-off-florida-coast-video
3 igfa.org - https://igfa.org/2020/06/16/descending-devices-required-in-south-atlantic-to-help-snapper-grouper/
4 floridasportfishing.com - https://floridasportfishing.com/beer-battered-mystic-grouper/
5 fishingstatus.com - http://fishingstatus.com/fishing/species/fish/indexid/858408
6 anglr.com - https://anglr.com/fishing-blog/tag/grouper/
7 floridasfinestfishing.com - https://floridasfinestfishing.com/tag/grouper/
8 landsendmarina.com - https://landsendmarina.com/blog/2013/08/26/catch-gag-grouper-around-tampa-bay/