A good haul of lion fish brought up from the reef after two dives off the island of Utila in the Honduras. A spear is used to pin them, then stab them till they don’t have any fight left, then they are stuck in an escape-proof tube so they can be brought back safely to shore. Lion fish may be beautiful, but like a rose has its thorns, a lion fish has its barbs and those barbs contain a neurotoxic venom. It’s not fatal, but you would definitely feel it for a while. They are also surprisingly tough and fast. I saw more than one evade certain death from point blank range, somehow shrugging off a spear and diving for safety deep within the reef. Of course, once that happens, they become wary and even harder to catch next time.
Lion fish are an invasive, prolific and ravenous species that are devastating reefs throughout the Caribbean where they have no natural predators, so don’t shed any tears for them. In fact, for my friends back in Florida, Florida Fish and Wildlife is adding a little incentive this year. For each day of the lobster mini-season (July 29-30), if a diver gets 10 lion fish, they are allowed 1 lobster over the bag limit. Not a bad deal, especially considering that lion fish are also quite tasty. Keep that in mind if you happen to see lion fish on a restaurant menu. It’s a light white fish, similar to grouper or mahimahi, with no “fishy-taste” at all. So help save the reef – eat a lion fish!