Lionfish are some incredible creatures. With brown or maroon stripes lining their bodies, these animals have various spiky rays and spines ready to intimidate would-be predators and threaten whatever sea creature they decide to hunt.
- Young lionfish can be as small as one inch
- Adult lionfish can grow to 18 inches
- Lionfish have no known predators
As predatory animals, lionfish often corner their lunch before swallowing it on one giant gulp. Plus, with a set of 18 venomous spines, the animal can be a threat to unsuspecting swimmers — who could experience throbbing pain and a heart attack after being stung.
With some much power packed inside this 18-inch fish, it’s easy to be impressed and scared by the lionfish.
The Lionfish and Our Oceans’ Health
As a remarkably powerful hunter with no known predators, the lionfish consumes over 50 species of fish. That may not seem like a lot compared to other sea creatures such as the killer whale (which has been observed targeting more than 140 species of animals), but the lionfish isn’t like other ocean predators: it’s an invasive species.
- Lionfish were first reported on the Florida coast in 1985
- By competing for food, lionfish threaten Florida’s local predatory fish, such as groupers
Lionfish are native to the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, but the creatures have taken over huge swaths of the southeastern U.S., ranging from Florida’s coasts to North Carolina. And since they are such good hunters, some scientists worry that lionfish threaten the health of non-native zones by destroying local sea life.