Unfortunately Jacksonville Florida suffers the same fate as the rest of Florida and the Western Atlantic. The waters offshore northeast Florida are plagued with invasive lionfish. TISIRI and Offshore Dive Charters are coordinating lionfish round-up events to do as much as possible to try to keep the lionfish population in check. See the brief video of one of our lionfish round-up events below.
Lionfish are an Indo-Pacific fish species that have found their way into the Western Atlantic. In their native range lionfish populations are kept in check and the animals are said to be somewhat rare to encounter. This couldn't be further from the truth off the Coast of Florida. Since the early 2000's lionfish populations in the Western Atlantic, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, have exploded. Scuba divers across the Eastern United States are reporting lionfish sightings on nearly every dive.
Lionfish appear to be thriving here as it seems all the conditions are just right for their success. One of the reasons is there are no known predators of lionfish in the western Atlantic. The more concerning factor is there is plenty of food for them. Lionfish are voracious eaters, eating nearly anything that will fit in their mouth. Unfortunately this includes fish species that already have threatened populations.
Long story short, the exploding lionfish population in Western Atlantic nonnative waters is detrimental to the health of our marine environment. TISIRI will continue to coordinate lionfish round-up events. Please contact us if interested in participating.