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Lions of the Caribbean

 The red lionfish hides in plain sight using stripes and fins that disrupt the b

The red lionfish hides in plain sight using stripes and fins that disrupt the body shape.

By Oona Lönnstedt & Mark McCormick

Despite the extravagent appearance of red lionfish, these voracious carnivores are virtually undetectable by small prey and are causing massive problems in the Caribbean. So why aren’t they taking over the Great Barrier Reef?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Most of us have seen or at least heard of the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. In this film, a rugged gang of plundering pirates roam the waters of the Caribbean Sea. Luckily, Captain Jack Sparrow comes along and manages to put a halt to the dangerous crew of undead pirates.

Today, the Caribbean is facing an even greater threat than pirates. It is dealing with a seemingly unstoppable predatory fish originally from Australian waters.

Lionfish are native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, where they roam the waters of coral and rocky reefs. During the day you often find them under a ledge or in a cave, but at dusk these predators come out of their hiding spots and swim the reefs in search of food, like hungry ghosts in the night. In the Pacific Ocean they are a natural and rather uncommon member of the coral reef communities, but in other parts of the world the story is very different.

The red lionfish was accidentally introduced into the Caribbean almost 30 years ago and, like cane toads in Australia, it is wreaking havoc in its new environment by eating its way through the ecosystem. The predatory success of lionfish in the Caribbean has long been a mystery to ecologists as populations in Australian waters are far more sustainable. Our research suggests that lionfish use a handy trick to be undetectable by their prey, becoming ultimate feeding...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.