Source of Lionfish Invasion

Hurricane Andrew to blame??? Well maybe or maybe not. Walter Courtenay, fisheries biologist and Professor Emeritus at Florida Atlantic University, published an account (in 1995) of 6-8 lionfish being spotted in Biscayne Bay after a bay-side aquarium broke during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

However, there have been earlier reports:

  1. The late Richard Nielsen, golden crab fisherman extraordinaire, and a good friend, found one in 1985 fishing off Dania, Florida according to his wife, Teri Nielsen. This fish was mounted and was given away by Richard. If anyone knows where this lionfish is, please contact me or Teri.
  2. During an April 8th presentation to The Rotary Club of Freeport, arranged by my father – Sonny Waugh, Mr. Caleb Hepburn recounted a long lost encounter with a lionfish. It was in the 1930s on Cat Island when his brother saw a lionfish in a conch crawl.

If any of you recall or have heard stories of earlier encounters or sightings, please let me know. Such information will help us better understand the origin of the lionfish invasion.


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