Nature Foundation Records Increase in Lionfish Population

The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has noted an increase in the lionfish population in the waters surrounding the island. Over the last few weeks during their regular lionfish sweeps, Foundation staff have noticed an increase in the venomous creatures, particularly along some beaches. "We have removed ten specimens during one day’s work from bathing beaches on the Dutch Side. Although it appears that beaches are now clear of lionfish we will return in a week or so to do follow-up checks," read a statement from the Nature Foundation. Although the increase has been noticed close to shore, the lionfish population within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park seems to be stable, with dive centers and fishermen cooperating closely to control the species.


The Nature Foundation is also collaborating with various universities in the United States on a research project where natural parasites are measured which might be affecting the Lionfish population in local waters. "We have been sending specimens to the US where scientists are using lionfish caught locally to see if parasites are starting to effect the population here on St. Maarten."

Lionfish are an invasive venomous fish that can inflict a painful and sometimes fatal sting. Lionfish are usually found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans but were introduced into the Atlantic thru the aquarium trade. Native fish species don’t recognize the Lionfish as a threat so they are unable to defend themselves against it. In other places were lionfish were spotted there are hardly any snappers and grouper left because those are the type of fish the lionfish likes to eat.

The Nature Foundation encourages fishermen, divers and all those who may have captured or sighted lionfish to report their catch or sightings to the Nature Foundation through calling 5270490 or via email at ma*****@na*****************.org.