Lionfish in the waters of tropical atlantic and Caribbean habitats are a well documented and growing problem of an invasive species. The classic story about invasive species is that when they entire an exotic environment, predators are often not adapted to eat them, or potential prey are not adapted to avoid them, and both are true in the case of the invasive lionfish.
For years concerned scientists, researchers, and local environmentalists have been trying to combat the growing lionfish problem through lionfish roundups, cookbooks, and even trying to teach sharks to eat them by feeding them freshly speared Pterois volitans. With their many long and venomous spines, lionfish have posed a challenge to any large predator that might try to eat them, and the reduced numbers of large apex predators through fishing hasn’t helped the issue at all.
However, a new video released last month by Lionfish University shows a Nassau grouper making a meal out of the much-maligned invasive lionfish. The grouper doesn’t have an easy time of it either, swimming around the lionfish for several minutes in a stalking dance to get just the right angle on this fish. Then, in an instant the lionfish is gone, disappeared into the mouth of the grouper.
There is no guarantee that the grouper had no ill effects from eating this lionfish, or maybe this individual has learned a technique to exploit this growing prey items. It’s too early to get really excited about this observation but it does engender hope that with careful resource management, especially of the largest apex predators, perhaps at least one day the lionfish populations will be under control if groupers and other large fish can learn to eat lionfish. [NY Post]