Monday, July 1, 2013

The Worst Marine Invasion Ever

I could not believe what I found inside a lionfish.

A Lionfish swims in a display tank in the aquarium on the United Arab Emirate of Sharjah on August 6, 2008. 

"Do you know what this is?" James Morris looks at me, eyes twinkling, as he points to the guts of a dissected lionfish in his lab at the National Ocean Service’s Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, N.C. I see some white chunky stuff. As a Ph.D. candidate at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, I should know basic fish biology literally inside and out. When I cut open a fish, I can tell you which gross-smelling gooey thing is the liver, which is the stomach, etc. 

He's testing me, I think to myself. Morris is National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's pre-eminent scientist studying the invasion of lionfish into U.S. coastal waters. He’s the lionfish guy, and we met in person for the first time just a few days earlier. We're processing lionfish speared by local divers, taking basic measurements, and removing their stomachs for ongoing diet analyses. Not wanting to look bad, I rack my brain for an answer to his question. It's not gonads. Not spleen. I’m frustrated with myself, but I simply can't place the junk; I've never seen it before. Finally, I give up and admit that I'm completely clueless.
 
For the rest of the story: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/07/lionfish_invasion_the_invasive_fish_are_eating_so_many_native_species_that.html

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