Click here for the most up-to-date lionfish distribution (our Real-Time Point Distribution Map)
Schofield (2009) provides an overview of lionfish occurrences in the Atlantic and Caribbean through August 2009. An update to this article (Schofield 2010) gives the current range of lionfish through November 2010. In summary:
Atlantic Coast of USA: Lionfishes have been established from Miami to North Carolina since 2002. They established in the Florida Keys in 2009. Although present in Atlantic waters north of North Carolina, they are not likely to survive cold winter temperatures.
Gulf of Mexico: Other than the anomalous Treasure Island specimen (see Schofield 2010), the first confirmed specimens of lionfish taken from the Gulf of Mexico were in December 2009. Sightings of lionfishes are becoming common in the northern Gulf of Mexico, especially associated with artifical reefs (including oil/gas platforms).
Bermuda, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and Cayman Islands: Lionfishes were numerous in Bermuda by 2004 and established in the Bahamas by 2005, the Turks and Caicos by 2008 and the Cayman Islands by 2009.
Greater Antilles: Lionfishes are established off all islands in the Greater Antilles (Cuba , Jamaica , Hispañola [Haiti and the Dominican Republic; 2008] and Puerto Rico ).
Lesser Antilles: Lionfish presence has been confirmed throughout the leeward and windward islands. For more details, see Schofield (2010).
Caribbean coasts of Mexico, Central and South America: Lionfishes are established from Mexico through Venezuela (Mexico , Belize , Honduras , Nicaragua , Costa Rica , Panamá , Colombia , Venezuela ). One specimen was captured in southern Brazil in 2014 (Ferreira et al. 2015). It is unclear whether the species is established in Brazil at this time (2016).
Mediterannean Sea: Pterois miles has been reported from the Mediterranean Sea in Israel (Golani and Sonin 1992), Lebanon (Bariche et al. 2013) and Turkey (Turan et al. 2014). The species is reported from popular press articles in Cyprus (Evripidou 2013). Kletou et al. (2016) reported that lionfish had recently increased in abundance and colonised almost the entire south eastern coast of Cyprus. These fish are thought to have migrated into the Mediterranean sea via the Suez Canal (i.e., Lessepsian migration). Azzurro et al. (2017) reviews the invasion of lionfish in the Mediterranean, which currently extends to Italy.
Additional maps and flyers:
Animated Distribution Map
Report a Lionfish Sighting and Medical Treatment Information (Printable PDF Flyer)
References: (click for full references)
Aguilar-Perera, A. and A. Tuz-Sulub. 2010. Non-native, invasive Red lionfish (Pterois volitans
[Linnaeus, 1758]:Scorpaenidae), is first recorded in the southern Gulf of Mexico, off the northern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Aquatic Invasions 5(2):S9-S12.
Albins, M. A. 2012. Effects of invasive Pacific red lionfish Pterois volitans versus a native predator on Bahamian coral-reef fish communities. Biological Invasions (Online First: http://www.springerlink.com/content/qrw171w1204h3l10/fulltext.pdf)
Albins, M. A. and M. A. Hixon. 2008. Invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) reduce recruitment of Atlantic coral-reef fishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 367: 233-238.
Albins, M. A. and M. A. Hixon. 2012. Worst case scenario: potential long-term effects of invasive predatory lionfish (Pterois volitans) on Atlantic and Caribbean coral-reef communities. Environmental Biology of Fishes (available via Online First: http://www.springerlink.com/content/7v254603n7883768/ )
Azzurro, E., B. Stancanelli, V. Di Martino, and M. Bariche. 2017. Range expansion of the common lionfish Pterois miles (Bennett, 1828)
in the Mediterranean Sea: an unwanted new guest for Italian waters. BioInvasions Records 6(2):95-98. http://www.reabic.net/journals/bir/2017/2/BIR_2017_Azzurro_etal.pdf.
Bariche, M., M. Torres and E. Azzurro. 2013. The presence of the invasive Lionfish Pterois miles in the Mediterranean Sea. Mediterranean Marine Science 14: 292-294.
Ballew, N.G., N.M. Bacheler, G.T. Kellison, and A.M. Schueller. 2016. Invasive lionfish reduce native fish abundance on a regional scale. Scientific Reports 6:32169 DOI:10.1038
Bernadsky, G. and D. Goulet. 1991. A natural predator of the lionfish, Pterois miles. Copeia 1991: 230-231.
Chevalier, P.P., E. Gutiérrez, D. Ibarzabal, S. Romero, V. Isla, J. Calderín and E. Hernández. 2008. Primer registro de Pterois volitans (Pisces: Scorpaenidae) para aguas cubanas. Solenodon 7: 37-40.
Courtenay, W.R., Jr. 1995. Marine fish introductions in southeastern Florida. Newsletter of the Introduced Fish Section, American Fisheries Society 14: 2-3.
Evripidou, S. 2013. Toxic lionfish makes its way to Cyprus waters. http://archives.cyprus-mail.com/2013/02/20/toxic-lionfish-makes-its-way-to-cyprus-waters/
accessible here: http://www.incyprus.eu/cyprus-news/toxic-lionfish-makes-its-way-to-cyprus-waters/
Ferreira, C. E. L., O. J. Luiz, S. R. Floeter, M. B. Lucena, M. C. Barbosa, C. R. Rocha and L. A. Rocha. 2015. First record of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) for the Brazilian coast. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0123002. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123002.
Fishelson, L. 1975. Ethology and reproduction of pteroid fishes found in the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea), especially Dendrochirus brachypterus (Cuvier), (Pteroidae, Teleostei). Pubblicazioni della Stazione zoologica di Napoli 39: 635-656.
Fishelson, L. 1997. Experiments and observations on food consumption, growth and starvation in Dendrochirus brachypterus and Pterois volitans (Pteroinae, Scorpaenidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 50: 391-403.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI). 2006. First-known lionfish caught in Florida's Gulf Coast waters. [A Fish and Wildlife Research Institute press release.] http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/nonnative/marine-life/gulf-coast-lionfish-caught/
González J., M. Grijalba-Bendeck, A. Acero P, R. Betancur-R. 2009. The invasive red lionfish, Pterois volitans, in the southwestern Caribbean Sea. Aquatic Invasions 3: 507-510.
Green S. J. and I. M. Côté. 2008. Record densities of Indo-Pacific lionfish on Bahamian coral reefs. Coral Reefs: published online 25 November 2008.
Green, S. J., J. L. Akins, A. Maljkovic, I. M. Côté. 2012. Invasive lionfish drive Atlantic coral reef fish declines. PLoS One 7:e32596.
Guerrero, K. A. and A. Luis Franco. 2008. First Record for the Indo-Pacific red lionfish Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758) for the Dominican Republic. Aquatic Invasions 3: 255-256
Golani, D. and O. Sonin. 1992. New records of the Red Sea fishes Pterois miles (Scorpaenidae) and Pteragogus pelycus (Labridae) from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 39: 167-169.
Hamner, R. M., D. W. Freshwater and P. E. Whitfield. 2007. Mitochondiral cytochrome b analysis reveals two invasive species with strong founder effects in the western Atlantic. Journal of Fish Biology 71 (Sup B): 214-222.
Harmelin-Vivien, M. L. and C. Bouchon. 1976. Feeding behavior of some carnivorous fishes (Serranidae and Scorpaenidae) from Tuléar (Madagascar). Marine Biology 37: 329-340.
Kimball, M. E., J. M. Miller, P. E. Whitfield and J. A. Hare. 2004. Thermal tolerance and potential distribution of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles complex) on the east coast of the United States. Marine Ecology Progress Series 283: 269-278.
Kletou, D., J. M. Hall-Spencer and P. Kleitou. 2016. A lionfish (Pterois miles) has begun in the Mediterranean Sea. Marine Biodiversity Records 9:46 DOI: 10.1186/s41200-016-0065-y.
Kochzius, M., R. Söller, M. A. Khalaf and D. Blohm. 2003. Molecular phylogeny of the lionfish genera Dendrochirus and Pterois (Scorpaenidae, Pteroinae) based on mictochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 28: 396-403.
Lasso-Alcalá, O.M., Posada, J.M. 2010. Presence of the invasive red lionfish, Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758), on the coast of Venezuela, southeastern Caribbean Sea. Aquatic Invasions 5: S53-59.
Maljkoviæ, A., T. E. Van Leeuwen and S. N. Cove. 2008. Predation on the invasive red lionfish, Pterois volitans (Pisces: Scorpaenidae), by native groupers in the Bahamas. Coral Reefs 27: 501.
Meister, H. S., D. M. Wyanski, J. K. Loefer, S. W. Ross, A. M. Quatrini and K. J. Sulak. 2005. Further evidence for the invasion and establishment of Pterois volitans (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae) elong the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Southeastern Naturalist 4: 193-206.
Morris, J. A. and P. Whitfield. 2009. Biology, Ecology, Control and Management of the Invasive Indo-Pacific Lionfish: An Updated Integrated Assessment. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 99. 57 pp. available online at http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/documents/lionfish_%20ia2009.pdf
Poss, S. G. 1999. Scorpaenidae. Scorpionfishes. Pages 2291-2352 In: Carpenter, K. E. and V. Niem (Eds.) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Vo. 4. Bony fishes part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). FAO, Rome.
Pura Vida Divers. 2003. Lionfish sighting in West Palm Beach. Pura Vida Divers.
Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). 2008. Exotic species sighting program and volunteer survey project database. Accessed March 10, 2008.
Ruiz-Carus, R., R. E. Matheson, Jr., D. E. Roberts, Jr., and P. E. Whitfield. 2006. The western Pacific red lionfish, Pterois volitans (Scorpaenidae), in Florida: Evidence for reproduction and parasitism in the first exotic marine fish established in state waters. Biological Conservation 128: 348-390.
Schofield, P. J. 2009. Geographic extent and chronology of the invasion of non-native lionfish (Pterois volitans [Linnaeus 1758] and P. miles [Bennett 1828]) in the Western North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. Aquatic Invasions 4(3):473-479. http://www.aquaticinvasions.ru/2009/AI_2009_4_3_Schofield.pdf
Schofield, P. J. 2010. Update of geographic spread of lionfishes (Pterois volitans [Linnaeus, 1758] and P. miles [Bennett, 1828]) in the Western North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Aquatic Invasions 5 (Supplement 1): S117-122. http://www.aquaticinvasions.net/2010/Supplement/AI_2010_5_S1_Schofield.pdf
Schultz, Eric T. 1986. Pterois volitans and Pterois miles: two valid species. Copeia 1986: 686-690.
Semmens, B. X., E. R. Buhle, A. K. Salomon, C. V. Pattengill-Semmens. 2004. A hotspot of non-native marine fishes: evidence for the aquarium trade as an invasion pathway. Marine Ecology Progress Series 266: 239-244.
Sherman, B. 2007. Invasive lionfish species confirmed in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA Press Release October 12, 2007. http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/news/press/2007/pr101207.html
Steinitz, H. 1959. Observations on Pterois volitans (L.) and its venom. Copeia 1959: 158-160.
Turan, C., D. Erguden, M. Gurlek, D. Yaghoglu, A. Uyan and N. Uygur. 2014. First record of the Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois miles (Bennett, 1828) (Osteichthyes: Scorpaenidae) for the Turkish marine waters. Journal of the Black Sea/Mediterranean Environment 20: 158-163.
Whitfield, P. E., T. Gardner, S. P. Vives, M. R. Gilligan, W. R. Courtenay, Jr., G. C. Ray and J. A. Hare. 2002. Biological invasion of the Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) along the Atlantic coast of North America. Marine Ecology Progress Series 235: 289-297.
Whitfield, P. E., J. A. Hare, A. W. David, S. L. Harter, R. C. Munoz and C. M. Addison. 2007. Abundance estimates of the Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois volitans/miles complex in the Western North Atlantic. Biological Invasions 9: 53-64.
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.