June 24, 2009

Miami divers capture hated lionfish

Marine biologists in Florida say they have official confirmation the venomous lionfish has spread down the Atlantic Coast to Miami.

Divers from Biscayne National Park captured the invader from the Pacific in the bow of a freighter 60 feet below the surface after a sport diver reported sighting a zebra-striped fish, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

Terry Helmers, a park diver, said it took two dives to find the fish in the scattered debris.

We probably all swam past it a couple of times, Helmers said.

Lionfish are so named because their fins form a lion-like mane of spines that can inflict wicked stings, both to predators and humans who handle them.

They are said to have a bottomless appetite for young snappers, groupers, shrimp, crabs and anything else small enough for them to swallow.

They pretty much eat anything that comes into their path and, on the flipside, hardly anything eats them, biologist Vanessa McDonough said.