Invasive Species in the Mediterranean Sea
Invasive Species defines any kind of animal/plant that moved into a new environment and is creating damage to mankind – Financial, physical or other.
In collaboration with other Marine Biologists, we came up with a list of focus species to keep an eye on in order to evaluate the impact of the new intruders, including invasive species as well as local inhabitants, that will be first ones to suffer under the new peer pressure from freshly brought in species.
The Mediterranean Sea is particularly vulnerable to invaders from the south through Suez and as new immigrants migrate north towards the Adriatic Sea the original locals hit dead ends towards the shore of Italy – a possible disaster area in the near future where several species could go extinct simply because they are running out of space to evade.
The Lionfish Pterois miles is one of several “Invasive species” in the area. He originally migrated into the Mediterranean through the Suez channel from the Red Sea. With poisonous dorsal spines and his distinct look, it becomes very obvious it is not a good idea to touch them even though they tend to not swim away too fast if curious divers come close. So watch out! They are feeding on smaller fish which makes them a danger to an ecosystem in which they roam without any certain enemies.
The Pufferfish Torquigener flavimaculosus is another intruder from the Red Sea that slowly wins ground throughout the Mediterranean. They too are short on natural enemies in this eco system making it easy for them to expand their populations without problems. Right now we keep a close eye on them to ensure their population does at the least not increase.
The Rabbitfish Siganus sp. actually comes in more than one species, however they are tricky to discern, especially since they can change their color in the cause of a day.
They as well migrated into the Med from tropical waters and are slowly taking over niches from the locals. While they are not an immediate threat in terms of feeding on the locals they do increase the pressure on the local fauna and decrease the amount of food for herbivore local residents.
Blue Spotted Cornetfish
The blue-spotted Cornetfish Fistularia commersonii is yet another newcomer to the Mediterranean but not an unpopular one. They are one of the original enemies of juvenile fish (including Lionfish) and are used to feeding on them from the Red Sea. So the hope is they might actually help to keep the stocks of Lionfish small rather than decimate the local fish populations.