The word is that the beautiful lionfish have invaded our natural Caribbean waters. How did this invasion start? Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific and are in balance with the ecosystems in that area. In the Caribbean they are voracious predators of marine life but are not on the food chain for any of our Caribbean fishwere the first to sight the deadly lionfish. The lionfish can easily be identified by its red-and white zebra stripes, with feathery pectoral fins.
- Lionfish are members of the scorpionfish/Scorpaenidae family and subfamily Pteroinae.
- Lionfish are found in the Indo-Pacific (central and western Pacific oceans) and the Red Sea.
- Lionfish are also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish.
- The largest lionfish is known to be about 15 inches. However, the average size of a lionfish is 1 foot in length.
· There is no danger in eating the lionfish meat once the spines have been removed
· Lionfish are poisonous: False, Lionfish are not poisonous creatures but they are venomous. The lionfish carries its venom in its needle-like dorsal fins. Divers must be extremely careful around the lionfish, as a sting from a lionfish can be extremely painful.
So why is that the Lionfish are a danger to our reef?
A lionfish can eat up to 20 small fish in less than 30 minutes and due to their venomous spines they stand fearless against any other sea creatures. The loss of our small fishes in the ocean causes a threat to our coral and reef ecosystem. The only lionfish predators in the Caribbean scuba divers trying to protect the existing ecosystem.
Splash Dive Center has hosted many spear fishing expeditions this year in the hopes of saving the reef. The lionfish is a delicious delicacy and has gained popularity in many local restaurants in Belize. However, the market for lionfish is greater than Belize. David Johnson, Proprietor of Traditional Fisheries, the only commercial supplier of lionfish in the world was the first to ship the delicious Caribbean delicacy out of Belize to the United States. The demand for lionfish meat is growing in the U.S market. Currently many high-end restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Houston are serving lionfish meat.
Eat Lionfish, Save the Reef!
In Belize, lion fish are the only species that regulations allow to be taken with spear guns and the spear guns must meet specific specifications set by the Fisheries Department.
Interested in joining Splash Dive Center in Belize for a Lionfish Hunting Safari?
Contact Patty at Patricia@SplashBelize.com