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Aquarium Collects Invasive Species

Lionfish collected off the Wilmington coast at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Kure Beach, NC –Lionfish, with their distinctive stripes and venomous spines continue to proliferate the North Carolina coast. In recent weeks, North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher staff collected more than four dozen of the invasive species during routine dives locally.
“The species negative impact on local waters is well known,” said Aquarium Curator Hap Fatzinger. “Lionfish were everywhere at our dive locations. We responsibly removed quantities of animals and are now working to distribute them to other Aquariums to help educate the public.”
Fatzinger explained Lionfish (Pterois volitan) are native to the Indo-Pacific region, but are now common in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The species sport venomous spines harmful to humans, reproduce rapidly, have few natural predators in Atlantic waters and are ravenous eaters, preying especially on young native fish populations.
In recent years, marine environmental and conservation groups have worked to educate the public and introduce eradication methods. Organized dive round-ups and adding lionfish to seafood menus have become more popular.
Visitors to the Aquarium can see lionfish in the Exotic Aquatics gallery.
NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is located a short drive from Wilmington south of Kure Beach, on US 421. The site is less than a mile from the Fort Fisher ferry terminal. Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas). Admission: $10.95 adults ages 13-61; $8.95 62+ and military; $6.95 ages 3-12. Free admission for: children under 2; registered groups of N.C. school children, and NC Aquarium Society members. General information: