This week’s Marine Monday, the National Museum of Bohol features another bizarre reef-associated marine animal found in the Bohol sea, Lionfish locally called as Lawong.
The Lawong are members of the scorpaenid fish family (Scorpaenidae). They are native to Indo-Pacific regions. They have fan-like pectoral fins and venomous fin spines. They can spread when they are disturbed which can injure other animals near them.
These species are solitary and sometimes found in small groups in the mangroves, seagrass, rock, and coral formations and are active during the night to feed on small fishes, shrimps, and crabs.
Some lawongs species can be invasive and potentially harm reef ecosystems. Either by accident or released as early as the 1900s, lawongs were introduced to the Western Atlantic, which is not part of their native range. The first individuals caught were even thought to come from the Philippines via the aquarium trade. They are now widespread in many parts of the Americas and the Mediterranean.
In its native range, like the Philippines, lawongs coexist with many other native marine species. Sharks, groupers, and moray eels are known to prey on lawongs. In which case, the presence of marine protected areas, where these species can grow in healthy populations become insurance of a balanced ecosystem.
In photos are the beautiful specimens photographed in situ here in Bohol: Zebra Lionfish (Dendrochirus zebra) and Pterois sp.