Sharks being trained to eat invasive lionfish
Honduras - Working with park officials, local divers are attempting to give sharks a taste for the alien reef species, which are native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. With no natural predators, lionfish populations have exploded throughout the waters of the Caribbean and U.S. Southeast since their accidental introduction by aquarium hobbyists a decade ago.
Lionfish can take over seafloor and reef habitat and establish densities of more than 200 adults per acre. A mature female lionfish produces some two million eggs every year, and those eggs and larvae are carried far and wide by currents—fuelling an ongoing invasion.
“At the beginning, the divers just killed lionfish and fed sharks with them to get the sharks to develop a taste,” said photographer Antonio Busiello, who observed the process in action.
“In the second step, to have the sharks develop an interest in hunting them, divers started to leave wounded lionfish so that the sharks could taste them. After a while, the sharks did start to hunt them and go after them.”
Living up to their voracious reputations, many sharks can eat venomous prey, such as lionfish, and suffer no apparent ill effects, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
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