The lionfish is an odd fish living in the shallows of the Indian and Pacific oceans. These fish are 15 inches (40 cm) long and have an extremely painful sting. The long thin spines on its back (shown in picture) are venomous because of venom sacs placed on the base of some of the spines. Because of this, when they puncture the skin, the spines produce painful wounds. The venom can cause breathing difficulties and dizziness in adult humans and occasionally death in children. These fish are sometimes kept by aquarium owners who are willing to be careful enough to avoid the stinging spines while cleaning. Although they were originally from the Pacific and Indian oceans, they were released on purpose into the Atlantic Ocean by fish owners who no longer wanted to care for their venomous pet. Others suspect that when pet stores in Florida were damaged by hurricane Andrew in 1992, some lionfish may have escaped and found their way to the Atlantic. They eat other, smaller fishes which they sometimes herd into confined spaces by spreading their large pectoral fins. The main predators of lionfish are larger fish and eels that are hungry enough to endure the pain of the spines. To produce young, the female releases two egg clusters held together by mucus. Each of these clusters contains between 2,000 and 15,000 eggs. The male lionfish then fertilizes the eggs. After several days, the mucus binding the eggs together in the egg sac dissolves, letting the eggs float freely throughout the ocean. In a short period of time, the eggs that have not been eaten by predators hatch, and the tiny lionfish live near the top as plankton. Once the babies reach the size of one inch, they swim down to the bottom of the ocean to join the rest of the lionfish, where they can live up to 16 years.
Here’s the picture of next week’s animals. – (Hint, they are different species.)
- Lionfish/spines – Wikipedia user:Alexander Vasenin
- Mystery animal – Wikipedia users:Kenneth Dwain Harrelson and D. Gordon E. Robertson