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Why The Lionfish Really Is The Terminator

Miami Herald

Central Casting could call on Arnold Schwarzenegger should there ever be a movie made titled "The Lionfish."

That's how efficient a predator the invasive creature has become -- now dubbed "The Terminator." The lionfish has made its way here from its native Indo-Pacific waters -- and not by swimming. Most likely they were released from aquariums after consuming their tankmates.

Oregon State University has just finished a study about the red lionfish, which has taken up residence in the warm water reefs around South Florida and the Caribbean.

It shows the lionfish is truly a member of the "Clean Your Plate" club.

"Most predators will move on after they've eaten their fill, but not the lionfish," says Kurt Ingeman of the OSU Integrative Biology Department. "They will stay until every bit of their prey has been eaten -- even small fish."

And a full lionfish appears to be a frisky lionfish. With an abundant food supply, they make baby lionfish -- a lot of baby lionfish -- and the problem grows even larger.

Right now, Ingeman says the only solution is to fish them. And he points to lionfish derbies like the one in Belize to reduce the population.

And for humans to eat them.

"They really are quite a delicious fish," Ingeman says.