Published: Sep 23, 2010 8:10 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 23, 2010 5:10 PM EDT

PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A lionfish captured on a reef off Pensacola Beach is igniting fears of a possible threat to swimmers and local fishermen.

A 6-inch lionfish was captured Sept. 9 off the coast of northwest Florida. Another one was found in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and there have been other undocumented sightings.

Wildlife officials fear the beautiful yet venomous fish could be rapidly spreading and its population could explode.

Environmental administrator Jon Dodrill says the biggest concern is the lionfish will destroy recreational and commercial fish populations. If they show up closer to shore, inexperienced divers could run into one.

There are no major predators or diseases to control their population. But Dodrill says the fish are tasty, so maybe that can help control their numbers.