Lionfish out for a swim

Lionfish

These guys tend to stick close to reef and shelter during the day, frequently not moving at all and relying on their camouflage and poisonous barbs to defend them.

This one, was out above the reef almost in open ocean for a cruise at Johnny’s Gorge.

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Lionfish have weird eyebrows…

Am I right?

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Staring at each other with suspicion…

Who is watching who?

Lionfish in a current make a diver uneasy. Unlike most fish, they’re not skittish. That means it’s possible to drift ridiculously close to those poisonous spines.

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Old joke: How do lionfish mate?

Lionfish interrupted

Very carefully.

The logistics seem difficult with all those spines… but I might have disturbed a tender moment between two poisonous, beautiful fish.

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Toxic beauty…

Lionfish

Lionfish at Minerva’s Ledge.

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A man yesterday asked me why I care about the ocean…

Lionfish...

And I actually struggled briefly. I can list all the ecosystem services the ocean provides: carbon sink, climate regulation, regional weather control, vital food chains. I can talk about all the direct human needs that are satisfied by the ocean: the billions that live off fish for protein, the hundreds of millions whose jobs depend on the seas.

Those are all reasons why I care. But my passion is really driven by the wildness of the blue below, and how exhilarating and yet also peaceful it is to visit that world.

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I’m a lionfish, hear me roar

Lionfish eyeing me suspiciously. But with his protection of poison spines, he’s not going anywhere.

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Britney Spears ain’t got jack on this guy…

Toxic

Toxic but beautiful lionfish.

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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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Scared lionfish

I'm afraid of him, yet he runs away

A lionfish caught in the open makes for more protective coral at Lighthouse Reef.

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