Humans fuck up ecosystems in a variety of ways. Introducing new, "invasive" species into ecosystems in which they do not belong is a common example of our shameless interference with nature. One of the worst examples in recent memory is getting more attention. Let's start with the brief UPI science report Invasive lionfish in Caribbean, Atlantic growing in numbers.
Lionfish, a long-popular aquarium fish native to the Indo-Pacific region, are invading both Caribbean and Atlantic waters and threatening local fish populations, they said.
Native predators seem to have little effect on the numbers of lionfish, researchers say.
"When I began diving 10 years ago, lionfish were a rare and mysterious species seen deep within coral crevices in the Pacific Ocean," said Serena Hackerott, lead study author and graduate student at the University of North Carolina. "They can now been seen across the Caribbean, hovering above the reefs throughout the day and gathering in groups of up to ten or more on a single coral head."
Native reef predators such as sharks and groupers appear unable to control the population growth of red lionfish in the Caribbean, either by eating them or out-competing them for prey, the researchers said.
Human intervention may be the only solution to the problem of this highly invasive species, they said.
"Active and direct management, perhaps in the form of sustained culling, appears to be essential to curbing local lionfish abundance and efforts to promote such activities should be encouraged," the study authors wrote in the journal PLoS ONE.
Human intervention may be the only solution to the problem ... very nice! It is the Homo sapiens way. Create a problem. Study the problem. Get busy solving the problem, which creates some new problems requiring study and, eventually, human intervention. And so on, ad infinitum.
How did these lionfish get to the Atlantic and Carribean? Well, they didn't swim there from the Indo-Pacific, did they? How lionfish got into waters where they didn't belong is now lost in the mists of time, but we can make an educated guess about how they got there.
... James Morris Jr., an ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research is in Beaufort, North Carolina, has recently discovered that a lionfish was caught as long ago as 1985 in Dania, Florida, north of Miami, "the first record of a lionfish being caught " off the Atlantic coast, he says.
The "most likely vector" for all the invading lionfish, he says, was someone (or even several people) in the aquarium trade, releasing the fish and possibly eggs, into the wild.
And the result has been—
In less than a decade, the Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois miles and P. volitans) has become widely established along the Southeast U.S. and Caribbean. Lionfish are presently invading the Gulf of Mexico and South America. Recent estimates of lionfish densities indicate that lionfish have surpassed some native species with the highest estimates reporting over 1,000 lionfish per acre in some locations.
Lionfish are capable of permanently impacting native reef fish communities across multiple trophic levels. Lionfish occupy the same trophic position as economically important species (e.g., snapper and grouper) and may hamper stock rebuilding efforts and coral reef conservation measures.
As if the world's coral reefs were not already under heavy assault, the reefs of the Carribean must now cope with obese lionfish feasting on over 40 species of reef fish and crustraceans in a place where they have few or no natural predators.
The proliferation of invasive species is due to a lethal combination of a highly interconnected global economy and human stupidity/carelessness/cluelessness — insert your favorite word here.
Another reason I'm going to quit writing this blog is because it's getting harder and harder for me to take this human nonsense seriously. Maybe that's the real lesson of living in a world of over 7,000,000,000 people in the 21st century.
I would also like to see the reefs of the Carribean while there's still something left to see, assuming I can get the money together to go there.