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Episode 301: Alien Invaders

In the waters of the western Atlantic and Caribbean, a voracious alien predator has taken hold. Native to the Indo-Pacific, the invasive lionfish is a major threat to biodiversity and the health of already stressed coral reef ecosystems.

The popular aquarium fish is thought to have first been released into the wild in South Florida in the mid 1980s. With no natural predator in this part of the world, lionfish numbers have increased rapidly. Experts say that on some Bahamian reefs lionfish have reduced native fish populations by up to 90 percent in just a few years.

To combat this problem, experts are encouraging people to “eat’em to beat’em”. Changing Seas joins scientists in the field to learn more about this beautiful, yet gluttonous feeder and the threat it is posing to native fish populations.


Meet the experts featured in this episode.

Image Credits:

Changing Seas would like to thank the following individuals and institutions who kindly allowed their footage, images and other media to be used in this production:

Lad Akins
Reef Environmental Education Foundation

U.S. Geological Survey

Special Thanks:
Waldo, Mask & Snorkel

Web Extras

Catching a Lion in the Keys

Changing Seas crew member Veronique Koch nets a lionfish in the shallow waters off the Florida Keys. Lionfish, which are an invasive species in this region, pose an ecological threat to local marine ecosystems.

It's Lionfish and Panko Thyme!

A parody of "It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!!"
Since you gotta "eat them to beat them," lionfish are coming to a dinner plate near you. Lionfish fillets are tasty and only the spines contain venom. Check out REEF's Lionfish Cookbook, which is full of delicious recipes.

Lionfish hunting a Damsel in Distress

A lionfish hunts a small damselfish. This scene was captured in 720p HD at 60 frames a second because lionfish, when feeding, are nearly impossible to catch at regular film speeds. Even in slow motion, if you blink, you will miss the strike!

Filleting a Lionfish

REEF's Lad Akins demonstrates how to safely fillet a lionfish.

Tour of the Island School and Cape Eleuthera Institute

Check out this short tour of the Island School and Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas.

Funding for this episode of Changing Seas was provided by: