Lionfish Pterois sp. off North Carolina coast near the “Ben Franklin reefs” at 30 m.
These mid-shelf reefs are habitats for several commercially important grouper and
snapper species, including the gag grouper. George (2000) described the faunal
diversity of the Ben Franklin reefs dominated by the cold coral Oculina arbuscula ,
23 miles off Cape Fear, NC. Recent study of Scott Meister and colleagues at South
Carolina Marine Resource Center (paper in press in “Southeastern Naturalist”)
clearly documented the abundance of this alien tropical invader off Carolina coast.
Is the invasion of lionfish caused by global warming phenomena? Will the lionfish,
as a predator, devour the juvenile snappers and groupers? These are unanswered
Photo courtesy of Dr. Steve Ross.