I am Man! I kill Lionfish!

Lionfish are an invasive species from the Indo-Pacific that have rapidly spread across the Caribbean. Without a natural predator, they are quickly devouring the native reef fish (especially juveniles) and decimating the natural order.

Lionfish are evil.

In the mere eighteen months since I last visited Roatan, the size and population density of lionfish has increased exponentially. Whereas previously it was a bit of a novelty to encounter a lionfish on a dive (and the largest was about two inches), nowadays it is common to see up to a dozen on a given dive (the record kill stands at fourteen inches).

In response, the Roatan Marine Park has endorsed the hunting of lionfish as an attempt to curtail overpopulation. Hawaiian slings are available for purchase at the Roatan Marine Park Office after certified Divemasters and Instructors have completed a basic lionfish safety course. With a little practice and good buoyancy control, it’s easy to stab a hefty load of lionfish in a single dive.

So far, the efforts to eliminate the invaders has yielded impressive results: over 1700 lionfish were killed in the first Lionfish Derby hosted by the Roatan Marine Park. The second Lionfish Derby is currently underway; you can find more information at: http://www.roatanmarinepark.com/news/lionfish-derby/.

The reef fish have definitely adapted to the presence of lionfish hunters. Groupers, snappers, and moray eels frequently tail divers wielding slings, waiting for their chance to scarf down a fresh kill.

Also, it’s worth nothing that…

Lionfish taste delicious!

Pictured: Dinner

Their meat is a wonderful cross between grouper and snapper. I had it as a ceviche and it was amazing. I have heard similar reports from it being grilled or fried.

All the venom is contained in the lionfish spines. Therefore, it is advisable to remove the spines as quickly as possible (preferably immediately upon being speared) to reduce the risk of accidentally impaling yourself.

If you do get pricked by a lionfish, well, I can’t sugarcoat it for you…… it will freakin’ hurt. I saw a tiny lionfish cripple a 240lbs man with hours of intense pain. The best treatment is to apply a hot water compress (40-50C/104-122F) through a soaked rag over the puncture wounds, which attempts to draw the toxin towards the site of the injury. Spines should be removed with tweezers only. Also, rum helps pass the time until the pain subsides.

3 Responses to “I am Man! I kill Lionfish!”

  • #1

    Ah, you’re back to Roatan. Was just thinking about our next vacation and Hawaii so figured I’d stop over here and see if you were still there. Guess not.

    Great video of the lionfish kill.

  • #2

    Hey Jared, I’m actually in Portland, Oregon, right not, writing code and staying despondently dry. The videos I posted were from my April trip to Roatan.

    I will be on the Big Island of Hawaii from mid-July to mid-August, but then I probably won’t be able to wrangle together another dive excursions until April 2012. Unfortunately for my diving addiction (but fortunately for my wallet) I’ve been super busy with the programming and will be seeing my current project through to completion.

  • #3

    Hi there,
    I wanted to leave a message on here as it seems we have the same interests at heart- those Lionfish are a pesky species! Over summer I am doing a research paper on their feeding habits and effects on Honduras reefs and I wanted to post a link to my kickstarter fundraising profile on here incase you, or anyone else interested in this, would like to have a look and maybe contribute something at all! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1140057849/influences-of-lionfish-pteroris-volitans-on-hondur this is the link, I hope you at least have a little look! Thank you for taking the time to read this,
    Cath Cushenan

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