The US Geological Survey (USGS) recently updated its database on invasive species after a living specimen of Acanthurus pyroferus, commonly known as chocolate surgeonfish, was found by divers in southeastern Florida late last year. The species is native to the Indo-Pacific—excluding Hawaii—and is primarily a coastal fish. Despite its status as a valuable aquarium fish, the USGS and Florida conservation groups recognize it as an invasive species.

“We don’t know what the effects would have been if the fish had become established and began reproducing,” Lad Akins, director of special projects for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), told The Miami Herald. “But if we wait to find out, then it’s too late.”

The divers captured the strange fish and reported it to REEF, which then shipped the fish off to an aquarium for study and display. Florida is already grappling with the damage caused by invasive lionfish, and Akins said the state does not need another.

“Some people might say, ‘Oh big deal, we took this little fish out of the water,’” Akins told the Herald. “But that’s the way the lionfish got started.”

Indeed, few fish are as unwelcome in Florida waters as lionfish. The small, yet colorful looking fish are eating their way through the food chain and officials are desperate for methods of stopping their expansion. Some far-fetched ideas even include using submarines to harvest them in bulk, or training sharks to include lionfish in their diets. Like the lionfish, the USGS believes that the chocolate surgeonfish came from a personal aquarium before being found near Riviera Beach late last year.

Image from Brian Gratwicke on the Wikimedia Commons

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5 thoughts on “New Invasive Species Captured in Florida

  1. People really don’t care, for the most part. They get bored with their aquarium because it involves a little commitment and effort on their part, so they decide to be “humane” and go dump it into a river or the ocean. That’s how it starts.

  2. Sounds like the the Canadian Wolf that was “introduced” into the U.S. 20 years ago. Invasive species just aren’t good for ecosystems where they didn’t reside before. Inevitably damaging local floral and fauna.

      1. There is a difference between the ‘Yukon'(?) or colloquial ‘Canadian’ and the smaller type indigenous to the lower 48. As in the ones ‘relocated’ into Idaho. Not the same wolf. Psycho Giants, not shy of people…..

      2. The indigenous species of the area was the Great Plains Wolf, Canis Lupus Nubilus, whose range traditionally was from Northern Texas to southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Adult males typically weigh 100 lbs with exceptionally large individuals weighing 150 lbs. If they’ve had little experience with humans, then of course they’ll not be shy. Animals are like that. No surprise there.

        Regarding the Yukon Wolf you’re claiming is being introduced. That’s Canis Lupus Pambasileus. It’s considerably SMALLER than the Great Plains wolf, C.L. Nubilus. Pambasileus males are 45lbs to 120lbs. Average male about 90lbs, female about 80 lbs. So considerably SMALLER than Great Plains Wolves by about 10%.

        So it’s highly unlikely the invasive non indigenous Yukon wolves are being relocated to the US.

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