The National Aquarium’s DC venue recently teamed up with several east coast eateries to introduce a unique sustainable seafood menu item, lionfish, whose taste is distinctive as its story.
The Red Lionfish is an invasive species with strong defense mechanisms in its venomous pectoral spines. It preys on fish, shrimp and crabs and have even been observed feeding on fish more than half their total size!
The National Aquarium’s research team has observed a tenfold increase in lionfish numbers in the Bahamas from 2005 to 2007, with ongoing spread throughout the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. In 2009, researchers were dismayed to confirm the arrival of the Red Lionfish in the Florida Keys. Ongoing research continues to determine what effects these invaders are having on native marine ecosystems.
At a time when concerned vendors, restaurateurs and diners are seeking sustainable seafood choices, the Red Lionfish may provide a commercial opportunity as well as a means to controlling an invasive species in the Atlantic. With so many fish stocks over exploited, the lionfish offers a great-tasting fillet (similar taste and texture to Tilapia) and a new product for the Atlantic- based fishing industry.
Continue reading ‘Now serving, red lionfish’
The Baltimore Sun recently reported on an alien mussel species that was found in the Susquehanna River by a fish survey team. (click here for full story) In short, a single zebra mussel was scooped from inside a water intake pipe and is now being tested for positive identification. Invasive species experts fear that a larger population of this species could be growing, a species that is capable of clogging public water systems and hydro-electric dams, destroying native species of mollusks, and causing millions of dollars in damage.
Researchers at the National Aquarium agree that large populations of zebra mussels could lead to big problems for the Susquehanna River, however, it should be noted that this species will most likely not survive in the salty waters of the Chesapeake Bay. This invasive species is a known for its rapid population growth in the Great Lakes. Therefore, it is possible that zebra mussels could expand into the upper Bay in springtime when salinities are very low. So if the species were able to adapt to living in brackish water, its spread throughout the Bay would be devastating to the already struggling oyster industry.
The present threat, however, is on the native species of the river. If populated, the zebra mussels would settle and grow on the native mollusks species, eventually completely covering and killing them. We saw this in the Great Lakes, and unfortunately, the only tactic left to prevent some of the native mollusks from going extinct was to remove them from the wild to refuge situations. So, finding invasive species and removing them before they spread is very crucial.
Continue reading ‘In the News: invasive species poses threat to waterways’