The lionfish, traditionally native to the Indo-Pacific, and a longstanding feature in home aquariums across the US because of its striking appearance, is now a flourishing invasive species in Caribbean coastal waters. This invasive species has the potential to harm reef ecosystems because it is an apex predator that competes for food and space with overfished native stocks such as snapper and grouper. Scientists fear that lionfish will also kill off helpful species such as algae-eating parrotfish, allowing seaweed to overtake the reefs. The population continues to grow and increase its range, largely because lionfish have no known predators, and reproduce all year long; a mature female releases roughly two million eggs a year.
To this end, the Saint Lucia Dive Association has hosted a number of lionfish derbies over the last few years, encouraging local divers to catch the predators, and working with local hotels and restaurants to incorporate the fish, which is tasty, but requires care in preparation because of its spines, into their menus.