It’s a fact – grouper like eating lionfish. In the Indo-Pacific where lionfish and grouper are both native, the grouper regularly dine on lionfish, helping to keep their populations in check.
So far though, that hasn’t been the case in the Caribbean, where populations of non-native, invasive lion fish are rapidly growing out of control with no known predators. Lionfish are new on the scene in the Atlantic and Caribbean – likely here for less than 10-15 years. Grouper, sharks, and other animals who would normally feed on them in their native environments do not recognize them as a food source.
Until now, at least in once instance.
At least one large grouper in the Caribbean has developed a taste for lionfish, poisonous spines and all, and it was recently captured on video by Lionfish University. In the video, the Nassau grouper appears to herd the lionfish from its protective reef into open water, where it can investigate and poke from various angles. Once in the open water and after carefully positioning, the grouper lunges in for the kill.
The video was shot by Lionfish University co-founder Jim Hart on Feb 1, 2015 in Little Cayman and is believed to be the FIRST video documentation of a grouper making an open water kill of an invasive lionfish without encouragement of any kind by a diver.
Take a look:
If Grouper are now recognizing lionfish as a food source, it could prove to be a turning point in controlling the invasive lionfish population in the Caribbean.
Additional information and resources:
Kill A Lionfish, Save A Reef: How This Invasive Species Is Taking Over The Caribbean
Diving With Bull Sharks: An Adventure (With A Purpose) With Dive Balam in Playa Del Carmen
Wikipedia – Lionfish