The beautiful and exotic lionfish is anything but admired in the south Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, where it has created a state of emergency on the fragile reefs that proliferate the region. Lionfish are voracious predators, indiscriminate in their feeding preferences, which can include creatures that are more than twice its size. It has few natural predators in this foreign environment, where the rate of lionfish reproduction is enabling a rapid takeover of nearly all reaches of the reefs. Their insatiable predatory behavior claims the lives of juvenile and mature species alike, putting an abrupt end to the lineage of some species before they ever reach sexual maturity, stifling any chance for continuation of certain fisheries. The very survival of the reef depends on putting a stop to their expansion, which seems to lie solely in human hands at this point.
Catching lionfish has proven to be absurdly easy in most cases, despite the dangerous toxin that resides in the sharp spines that surround their bodies. Perhaps it is due to the lack of natural predators which would instill a fear response, or maybe the lionfish just isn’t all that cunning. Whatever the case may be, spearing or capture with a net can be facilitated by closing in steadily on the pest, who seem to stare blankly at their impending doom. It is important to handle the lionfish with great care once it is caught; most divers use a catch bag or a long line dragged behind to avoid contact with the spines.
Once you get your catch topside, you may be wondering how to go about preparing the fish so you don’t risk puncturing your flesh. This video demonstrates just that, with an added bonus of a couple ways to cook the flesh. No matter how you choose to eat the lionfish, you can take pride in the fact that you are doing the sea and the Earth a great service by removing them from places they do not belong! Happy hunting!
Image via MyFWCmedia