Lionfish are invading the Mediterranean

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Lionfish have already unleashed their fury on ecosystems across the waters of the Atlantic and Caribbean here in the Western Hemisphere. Now, these beautiful, highly venomous predators are set to tear the Mediterranean apart.

In a paper published today in Marine Biodiversity Records researchers found that lionfish had colonized the shoreline of one Mediterranean island in just a single year.

RELATED: Incredible images of lionfish

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A Lionfish is shown in this underwater photograph taken while scuba diving off the coast of the Caribbean island of Bonaire Friday, May 24, 2014. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A Lionfish is shown in this underwater photograph taken while scuba diving off the coast of the Caribbean island of Bonaire Friday, May 24, 2014. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A Lionfish is shown in this underwater photograph taken while scuba diving off the coast of the Caribbean island of Bonaire Friday, May 24, 2014. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Lionfish are shown in this underwater photograph taken while scuba diving off the coast of the Caribbean island of Bonaire Friday, May 24, 2014. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Lionfish are shown in this underwater photograph taken while scuba diving off the coast of the Caribbean island of Bonaire Friday, May 24, 2014. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Lionfish are shown in this underwater photograph taken while scuba diving off the coast of the Caribbean island of Bonaire Friday, May 24, 2014. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Lionfish are shown in this underwater photograph taken while scuba diving off the coast of the Caribbean island of Bonaire Friday, May 24, 2014. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A Lionfish is shown in this underwater photograph taken while scuba diving off the coast of the Caribbean island of Bonaire Tuesday, May 20, 2014. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
FILE- In this Thursday, June 27, 2013 file image taken from video, two lionfish are shown in an aquarium at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center in Dania Beach, Fla. A ban on imports of lionfish into Florida has won preliminary approval from the state's wildlife commission. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also wants to make it easier for more people to catch lionfish in the wild. The invasion of lionfish throughout the Atlantic is considered as menacing to native wildlife as the Burmese python's incursion into Florida's Everglades. (AP Photo/Suzette Laboy, File)
A lionfish swims in a holding tank at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. A Thursday meeting at the aquarium will focus on how the public can help deal with invasive lionfish which are now commonly found off the coast of the Carolinas. The meeting is one of three the environmental group REEF is holding in the Carolinas. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
A lionfish swims in a holding tank at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. A Thursday meeting at the aquarium will focus on how the public can help deal with invasive lionfish which are now commonly found off the coast of the Carolinas. The meeting is one of three the environmental group REEF is holding in the Carolinas. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
In this Thursday, June 27, 2013 image taken from video, research scientist David Kerstetter, points out a captive lionfishâs venomous spines at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center in Dania Beach, Fla. Divers in Florida and the Caribbean are encouraged to capture and eat any lionfish they encounter to protect reefs and native marine life already burdened by pollution, over-fishing and the effects of climate change. Recreational divers max out around 130 feet and researchers and wildlife officials rarely have the means to go looking for lionfish deeper than that, but theyâve realized that the lionfish they canât see may be their biggest concern. (AP Photo/Suzette Laboy)
A Lionfish is shown in this underwater photograph taken while scuba diving off the Caribbean island of Bonaire Sunday, May 19, 2013 in (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
FILE- In this May 22, 2012 file photo, a lionfish is speared off the Caribbean island of Bonaire. The effort to turn lionfish into a menu item appears to be working but the demand seems to be outpacing the supply. Lionfish are difficult to catch and must be individually speared. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
FILE- In this May 22, 2012 file photo, a lionfish swims near coral off the Caribbean island of Bonaire. The effort to turn lionfish into a menu item appears to be working but the demand seems to be outpacing the supply. Lionfish are difficult to catch and must be individually speared. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
FILE- In this May 22, 2012 file photo, a lionfish swims near coral off the Caribbean island of Bonaire. The effort to turn lionfish into a menu item appears to be working but the demand seems to be outpacing the supply. Lionfish are difficult to catch and must be individually speared. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
A lionfish swims in the Florida Keys exhibit at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium in Cleveland Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. Ohio's only free-standing aquarium opens Thursday with two preview days for annual pass holders and opens to the public Saturday, Jan. 21. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
A Lionfish (pterois volitans) swims in an aquarium in the Vivarium in the zoo in Basel, Switzerland, on Wednesday, January 9, 2008. (KEYSTONE/Georgios Kefalas)
A Lionfish (pterois volitans) swims in an aquarium in the Vivarium in the zoo in Basel, Switzerland, on Wednesday, January 9, 2008. (KEYSTONE/Georgios Kefalas)
A Lionfish (pterois volitans) swims in an aquarium in the Vivarium in the zoo in Basel, Switzerland on Wednesday, Dec 12, 2007. (AP Photo/Keystone, Georgios Kefalas)
A Lionfish (pterois volitans) swims in an aquarium in the Vivarium in the zoo in Basel, Switzerland on Wednesday, December 12, 2007. (KEYSTONE/Georgios Kefalas)
A Lionfish (pterois volitans) swims in an aquarium in the Vivarium in the zoo in Basel, Switzerland on Wednesday, December 12, 2007. (KEYSTONE/Georgios Kefalas)
This juvenile Lionfish, measuring between three and four inches long, was discovered by divers from the New England Aquarium in the Alantic waters of the Bahamas, the aquarium announced during a press availability Thursday, May 4, 2006 in Boston. The discovery of this invasive venomous species, native to the Pacific, seems to confirm it is now breading in the Alantic. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
A lionfish swims in a tank at the New England Aquarium in Boston, Tuesday, May 30, 2006. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Cubans look at a lionfish in a fish tank in Havana, on June 2, 2016. Cuba includes in its menu lionfish to combat this invasive and predatory species that threatens the balance of the Caribbean Sea. / AFP / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 19: A lionfish swims in a tank at Artisanal Foods on February 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Cubans look at a lionfish in a fish tank in Havana, on June 2, 2016. Cuba includes in its menu lionfish to combat this invasive and predatory species that threatens the balance of the Caribbean Sea. / AFP / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 19: A lionfish swims in a tank at Artisanal Foods on February 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A dead lionfish floats in the water, as its greenish blood is seen in the background, after it was speared by Mexican dive master Martin Vera off the reefs of Cozumel February 11, 2011. Native to Indo-Pacific waters, lionfish have invaded the Caribbean because of the aquarium trade and are gobbling up native species but have no predators in the region, so their population is exploding. Picture taken February 11, 2011. To go with Reuters Life! LIONFISH-CARRIBBEAN/INVASION REUTERS/Christa Cameron. (MEXICO - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)
A lionfish swims in the "Chichiriviche de la Costa" beach in the state of Vargas outside Caracas July 25, 2010. Six lionfish, which are native to the Indian Ocean, were accidentally released into the Caribbean in 1992, when an aquarium in southern Florida was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. Lionfish, which are believed to threaten native marine wildlife in Venezuela and the livelihoods of coastal towns dependent on fishing and tourism, have since been detected in at least 30 locations across the country since July 2010, triggering alarm among experts. Picture taken July 25, 2010. REUTERS/Rommel Cubas/Handout (VENEZUELA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Oscar Lasso-Alcala, a researcher at the La Salle Foundation of Natural Sciences, holds a stuffed lion fish in Caracas September 7, 2010. Six lionfish, which are native to the Indian Ocean, were accidentally released into the Caribbean in 1992, when an aquarium in southern Florida was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. Lionfish, which are believed to threaten native marine wildlife in Venezuela and the livelihoods of coastal towns dependent on fishing and tourism, have since been detected in at least 30 locations across the country since July 2010, triggering alarm among experts. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins (VENEZUELA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS)
A stuffed lionfish is seen at the La Salle Foundation of Natural Sciences in Caracas September 7, 2010. Six lionfish, which are native to the Indian Ocean, were accidentally released into the Caribbean in 1992, when an aquarium in southern Florida was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. Lionfish, which are believed to threaten native marine wildlife in Venezuela and the livelihoods of coastal towns dependent on fishing and tourism, have since been detected in at least 30 locations across the country since July 2010, triggering alarm among experts. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins (VENEZUELA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS)
Licensed divers catch a red lionfish on a Cayman Islands reef in this undated handout photo. More than 300 scuba divers have been certified to catch red lionfish in a race to prevent the invasive and voracious species from consuming all the young and small fish on theCayman Islands' famous corals reefs. REUTERS/Kimberly Parker/DiveTech/Handout (CAYMAN ISLANDS - Tags: ANIMALS SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
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"Until now, few sightings of the alien lionfish Pterois miles have been reported in the Mediterranean and it was questionable whether the species could invade this region like it has in the western Atlantic," Demetris Kletou, co-author of the paper said in a statement. "But we've found that lionfish have recently increased in abundance, and within a year have colonized almost the entire south eastern coast of Cyprus, assisted by sea surface warming."

Lionfish were originally found in the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They likely ended up in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic after being released from home aquariums. The invasion of the Mediterranean has different roots.

The expansion of the Suez canal has given lionfish even more access to the Mediterranean Sea, and warming water temperatures have provided the perfect environment for the invasive species.

A lionfish invasion is particularly worrying because they can eat their way through the food chain, devouring all kinds of fish and crustaceans, including commercially important species. They also reproduce at an alarming pace, with each female lionfish producing about 2 million eggs per year.

In North Carolina, lionfish are eating so much that some individuals are considered obese. In Florida, some have resorted to cannibalism because of the high numbers there. This year, Florida also started the Lionfish Challenge encouraging divers to kill as many lionfish as they possibly could. Maybe that tradition will spread to the Mediterranean as well.

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