Alien fish in the Mediterranean: the 2018 most dangerous ranking


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promises to be a hot summer for the Mediterranean. We are not talking about the climate, although it has warmed by one to two degrees Celsius in the last 30 years. The emergency noted by all statistical institutes is the invasion of alien species that are invading the mare nostrum. The Italian Society of Marine Biology counts 186 species native to warm seas, including 55 plants and 131 animals that now permanently inhabit our waters.

Not all of them are harmful, but some are highly dangerous to the environment and human health. Biologist Alfonso Martinez has ranked the most dangerous “aliens” for summer 2018, here it is:

1st Rabbitfish (Siganus luridus)
2nd Spotted pufferfish Lagocephalus sceleratus
3rd Scorpionfish (Pterois miles)
4th Flutefish (Fistularia commersoni)
5th American Atlantic tropical coastal crab (Percnon gibbesi)

Because they are so dangerous, here is the explanation:

Rabbitfish, it eats the seabed
It is a small herbivore native to the Red Sea area of the Persian Gulf. Voracissimo invaded the Aegean Sea after the doubling of the Suez Strait. In a short time it has desertified the South Aegean. It is also moving toward the Italian coast.

Spotted pufferfish, difficult to distinguish
It is already found throughout Italy. Poisonous, it is difficult to recognize it from the common puffer fish that is delicious to eat. It has invaded much of the Levantine basin, creating serious ecological, economic, and health problems in countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt, where several cases of food poisoning have been reported, some of them fatal. It can be recognized from the edible Pufferfish by the presence of dark dots on its back and a silvery band on its sides.

Scorpion fish, venom lasts 48 hours
It had already reached the Sicilian coast last year. Native to the Red Sea, it is a terrible predator, capable of altering coastal marine biodiversity. It is particularly dangerous to health; it has poisonous thorns that are very long and thin. The venom remains active for 24 to 48 hours, so the dangerousness of the species remains high.

Flute fish, they pass it off to you as garfish
At first glance it may be mistaken for a needlefish (Syngnathus typhle) or a garfish (Belone belone), it is also already present in Italy. It is not dangerous to the environment, edible but does not taste good, and is often passed off instead as garfish, whose flesh is far more valuable and flavorful.

Tropical Atlantic crab, you don’t know but it hurts
Now present along all Italian coasts, it has the distinction of being herbivorous while “our” crabs are carnivorous. The new species has found a free ecological niche, thus being able to establish itself easily and, at the same time, without competing with native species. Experts are concerned because in the long run it could alter the balance of the ecosystem. Precisely because of the characteristics described above, it could take over from its peers.



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