Imagine a predator on the loose. A bold creature; a voracious eater. With a mantle of venomous spines, prey to no-one else. Imagine a lion on the loose: a Lion of the Deep.
LIONS OF THE DEEP
‘Lionfish’. ‘Scorpion Volitans’. ‘Firefish’.
Even its name reveals the fiery character of the Indo-Pacific red lionfish, scientifically know as Pterois volitans/miles. With bold maroon and white zebra stripes, and a plume of feathery spines, the lionfish is a stunning specimen. Elegant. Graceful. Deadly to its prey.
The red lionfish’s profuse dorsal, anal and pelvic spines deliver a venomous sting that is fatal to potential predators; painful and dangerous to humans.
Native to the tropical Indo-Pacific region, red lionfish have been introduced to the Atlantic Ocean within the past several years, and gained a foothold in the coral and rocky reefs along the Gulf Stream.
Without any natural predators in these waters, the lionfish are thriving – putting indigenous marine species at risk, as well as recreational and commercial divers and anglers who come in contact with the fish.
The Essential Image Source Foundation (EISF) joins forces with NOAA/NOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research (CCFHR) to explore the invasive red lionfish – its expanding grip on the Coastal Atlantic, behavior, and impact.
With funding provided by NOAA’s Sea Grant and the Aquatic Invasive Species Program, EISF has gathered high definition footage for documentary and cutting-edge web-based usage, plus informational products targeted at medical responders; aquarium hobbyists and industry; and public outreach to warn SCUBA divers and anglers of the dangers of Indo-Pacific red lionfish.
EISF Founder and President Susan Sember is joined in this endeavor by Scientific Advisor Dr. Ford “Bud” Cross, and Paula E. Whitfield, Research Biologist at the NOAA Laboratory on Pivers Island, as Co-Principal Investigators. The production and creation of numerous high definition educational and outreach products, including two public service announcements, a medical treatment video and a short informational video about the lionfish research were completed and distributed to broadcasters, aquaria, medical treaters, as well as the SCUBA and fishing communities.
Go to our "Behind the Scenes" Blogs for reportage on the Lions of the Deep and mission logs of the R/V Nancy Foster lionfish film production.Photography by Doug Kesling