A part of me wants to go hunting…

Lionfish, a common reef predator in the Pacific and Indian oceans, is a voracious and invasive species here along the Atlantic seaboard. Dive shops routinely organize lionfish hunts to protect stressed reef ecosystems. I still wouldn’t eat them — I will remain vegetarian for now — but this gets me closer to my food ethic of eating animal I’ve killed/harvested myself.

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Wondrous to look at, less fun to touch

Beautiful but painful

Meet a common lionfish, a voracious eater common to the Indian Ocean. The fluttering spines all over it deliver a powerful toxin. Not deadly to humans on their own, but the severe pain caused could easily produce a problematic reaction if you’re, say, 100 feet underwater.

In recent years, lionfish have been devastating Atlantic reefs where they are an invasive species. They are multiplying practically as fast as they devour sea life, possibly because populations of a potential predator, grouper, are so depleted.

This has led the dive and conservation community to create lionfish hunts to check the pest. Apparently, the fish is rather tasty, though ciguatera would likely be a concern.

The above fish comes from Johnny’s Gorge. While taking this photo, I nearly drifted into its mate nearby. Close call.

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