Lionfish are a very destructive invasive species never meant to exist in the Atlantic Ocean. Released accidentally by human interference, they have overpopulated in a world with no natural predators. The lionfish has a voracious appetite, and it devours dozens of smaller reef fish each day. The result is that other fish are declining in numbers while the lionfish breed without check. The lionfish has large fins with a spiny on each end. The spine delivers a powerful toxin that can paralyze smaller animals. The sting is agonizingly painful, and predators avoid the lionfish at all costs. Lionfish hide in coral and under ledges, but a healthy lionfish has little to fear from even a large fish. Occasionally they boldly swim in the open with their fins extended for protection. The lionfish are undeniably beautiful with their colorful stripes and decorate "fans" This scuba diver could not resist getting close when he saw this juvenile lion fish swimming out on the open ocean. He held out his hand and held the lionfish in his palm. The fish looks at him curiously, wary enough of him that it extends all of its fins, warning him not to try to seize it. After a brief moment, the scuba diver lets the fish continue on its way. In the middle of the video, we see a nurse shark cruising through. Like ocean puppies, these sharks follow divers curiously, always hoping that there will be a chance of a free meal. This is Belize, and scuba divers are encouraged to kill and remove lionfish to conserve the resident fish populations. Occasionally, nurse sharks can capture injured lionfish before the divers can deposit them in collection bags. This shark has likely learned that scuba divers present occasional opportunities.
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