Kicking Off March with National Invasive Species Awareness Week!

March 3-8 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW)! National Aquarium, Washington, DC is participating to raise awareness about this international environmental issue.

So, what is an invasive species? 

An invasive species is any species that is non-native to the ecosystem that has the potential to cause economic or environmental harm to the ecosystem, or to human health. Invasive species pose a great danger to marine ecosystems by altering the water quality and competing with native species for food and other resources.

red lionfish

Red lionfish

Possibly the most well-known of all invasive species is the red lionfish Pterois volitans. This species has made a long journey from their native home of Indo-Pacific coral reefs to the coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean.

Their venomous spines make the red lionfish inedible to most predators, which has lead to an exponential growth of this species since their introduction into these ecosystems. Efforts are now being made to educate local communities on how to catch and prepare lionfish as a sustainable seafood (Did you know? Lionfish was even one of the featured ingredients for a past Fresh Thoughts dinner!).

red lionfish

One of the most famous invasive species in Maryland is the Northern snakehead (Channa argus). Sometimes called the “Frankenfish,” this species is native to China, Russia, and North and South Korea.

Northern snakehead

Northern snakehead

In 2002, an adult snakehead was discovered in a pond in Crofton, Maryland, likely released into the water after being bought at a local fish market. Since first being found in local waters (including the Potomac), its territory has spread along the East Coast from New York to Florida, and the species is beginning to expand west! The snakehead is an apex predator and poses a serious threat to local fish populations.

Want to learn more? Join us at our DC venue for “Invasive Species on the Menu,” a discussion on methods of combating the rapid expansion of invasive species into local ecosystems.

Stay tuned for more updates during National Invasive Species Awareness Week! 

7 Responses to “Kicking Off March with National Invasive Species Awareness Week!”


  1. 1 Marcus Dandrea March 7, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I’ve seen that red lionfish while scuba diving in PR.

  2. 2 Michael Guest March 7, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Very interesting event. Over the years, I have heard about invasive species and the threats they can cause to native environments. It’s very important to keep the ecosystems healthy.

  3. 3 Samirah Tamimi March 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I would love to try lionfish on the menu somewhere. Any ideas where to find it?

  4. 4 Neil Mcintyre March 7, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Yes, you will find a few in the waters at Tallygaroopna, among waterlillies.


  1. 1 Invasive species in the Wadden Sea | Dear Kitty. Some blog Trackback on March 5, 2013 at 5:42 am
  2. 2 Operation: Germination Station | bloggerheadseaturtle Trackback on March 5, 2013 at 9:20 pm
  3. 3 A Blue View: The Truth About Invasive Species | National Aquarium | WATERblog Trackback on March 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm

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