Jamaica has Lionfish

Here is a recent story by Erin Burge of Coastal Carolina University:
The spear was homemade by a staff member at the Discovery Bay Marine Lab, Omar Spence. It was a Hawaiian sling style handle (short PVC tube) ziptied to an old piece of rubber tubing. The spear itself was a piece of aluminum conduit. The spear points were 4-5 prongs of heavy gauge stainless steel plugged into the end with a piece of old car tire.
The story for these pictures:
Every year I lead a 2.5 week trip to Discovery Bay, Jamaica, for undergraduates at Coastal Carolina University. While there the students take a coral reef ecology class (http://www.ecologyofcoralreefs.com) and participate in research projects that they devise (with faculty guidance). Our school has been going to Discovery Bay Marine Lab for 25 years, and I have been involved with the program since 2007. In 2007, we didn't see any lionfish on the shallow reefs of the north shore of Jamaica (see the map at the above site). On our local hardbottom dives off of SC and NC lionfish are very abundant at some sites (see my video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qngZBYHlznQ). During class in May 2008 we found 1 lionfish on a deep wall dive, west of DBay. In 2009 we encountered lionfish frequently (I saw saw them on 16 or 17 dives of the 40 I did). By 2010 we saw multiple individuals on EVERY dive at EVERY dive site. A partner and I removed many of the fish we encountered, but there were always more at the sites we visited infrequently. I kept fin clips and length data for these fish to send to NOAA. The largest fish we killed was 370 mm (14 1/2 in) and the smallest was 85 mm (3 1/3 in). I have seen much larger fish locally off of SC and NC. I plan to a research project (pending funding) to examine age, growth, and feeding ecology of Jamaica lionfish in May 2011. We'll need money to buy a few more pole spears, some needle-stick gloves and a better microscope. The reefs of this part of Jamaica are severely overfished, and the addition of lionfish is likely to exacerbate this problem. A pair of fish we speared at about 90' on the west forereef at DBay was herding small reef fishes into an overhanging crevice to devour them. Upon dissection they were packed with small fishes. We saved the fish we speared over a couple of weeks and the kitchen staff prepared a meal of escoveitch fish (http://eatjamaican.com/recipes/escoveitchedfish-recipe.html) for us that fed 14 people with leftovers.
Erin Burge


What do Cosumel and Eleuthera have in common?

LIONFISH INVASION. I just recently receive
d lionfish sitings from Cosumel Mexico and Eleuthera Bahamas.

Cosumel: Tim, from Louisiana, was able to kill 17 lionfish at Medio reef before the captain of the dive boat made him stop. From what I understand, the government of Mexico frowns on the killing of lionfish.

John, from North Carolina (up in the hills), was on vacation in the south end of Eleuthera. He was diving a reef at about 45 ft down and noticed hundreds around this one reef head. He caught a lobster, discarded the head, and within minutes he noticed around 60 lionfish hovering around the head. The lionfish had already depleted the juvenile fish around the reef and were ready to devour anything else.

These stories prove to me that the lionfish problem is already out of control. I can not believe we are not taking greater action to eradicate this fish. PLEASE promote the killing and eating of lionfish.


Vacation Bob sends in his lionfish story:

Went to Majahual Mx for the Jatsa Ja Celebration Aug 11-15, as part of the Celebration they held a lion fish tournament. 127
Lionfish were collected in total, our group of 5 divers got 32 in 4 hours. The largest being 34cm in length. We dropped at 106' and within the 3rd minute we had spotted a group of 12 lions. at minute 9, we were on our way to 80' with 12 Lionfish in the bag! The average size was over 20 cm, with several near 30! We took the boat out maybe 200yards from shore, and dropped to 106' working our way toward shore into shallower depths. The large lion fish seem to be between 80 & 110' In this location of few divers, it seems as though there are more lionfish than bottom time to collect them. As you leave the depths, you can still see lionfish!! We discoverd with the addition of the new Paralyzing tip, you can shoot a lionfish, leave it on your ELF tool and shoot another! Yes, two lionfish at one time,,,, AMAZING We call them safaris and we had a blast, and did some real good, worked with a non profit eco group.too.


new report from Providenciales

We just returned from a three dave trip in Providenciales July 7,8,9. And when we dove west Cay, my son and I found 12 full grown lionfish. It would have been nice if we could have captured the buggers.
I did talk to the dive boat dive master(Caicos Adventures) about the large amount of LF and he said some dive operators were licensed to take the LF but they were not..
This looks like a good place for a LF round up.
Robert Polasek
Here is a picture we took.


Zach Timmons has a new lionfishhunter.com record lionfish

We have a new winner in our quest to find out who can get the largest lionfish on record for the lionfishhunter.com challenge. Zach Timmons has beat the previous record by 2 1/2". here is his account:
These fish seem to be everywhere now. Crazy that they have spread so fast. Never ate any because the snapper were biting so well. I will try them next year. This is a giant one for us. Most of the ones we shot were about half this size. Thanks for your interest. Let me know if there is a record keeping for fish for the Bahama chain. I fish down there every year somewhere. Love it. Capt. Frank Timmons
Keep killing those lionfish an submit your findings here. Hey Capt. Timmons, how deep was this one?



I should let everyone know that prior to eating my first Lionfish I was very apprehensive about it. I know that I, like many others, thought, "Am I going to eat an aquarium fish that has venomous spines? Will this poison me?" These are reasonable fears, but after much research, through both the internet and interviews with leading experts, I came to realize that the Lionfish is a common table food in many parts of the world and that even scientists at NOAA are now eating them. This research led me to take the plunge and now Lionfish is my main food source from the sea.

You too can safely catch, prepare and enjoy this delicious fish by following these few steps.


All that you need to catch a Lionfish is snorkeling gear, gloves and a spear.

The best way to catch a Lionfish is by spearing them.

Lionfish are normally found close to rock or reef croppings, so bottom fishing for Lionfish could lead to many snagged hooks.

Lionfish do not normally hide under rocks, they are almost always out in the open and easily visible.

Lionfish do not spook easily, so get as close as you can before you make your shot. I wait until my spear tip is 3-4 inches away from the fish before I make my shot, making it a guaranteed hit.

Once you've speared the fish, make sure to keep it at the end of your spear until you can place it on your boat. In the case that you don't have a boat, put the fish in a custom bag or stringer that would not allow the spines to sting you. Be careful not to point your spear upwards because the Lionfish can slide down and sting you.


Once the fish has died, the venom in the spines remains active for up to an hour, so be cautious when handling and preparing the fish. This venom is ONLY in the spines however, not in the flesh.

There are two ways to clean a Lionfish:

First, you can simply filet the fish and remove the skin, throwing the rest of the carcass away.

The second option is to grab the fish at his eyeballs with a pair of pliers, then take a filet knife and cut the head and belly of the fish off in one slice. Cut the remaining fins off with a pair of kitchen shears and scale the fish. The scales come off so easily that you can remove them by spraying the scales backwards with a water hose.

You now have beautiful white meat that is completely safe to eat.


Here are some easy, quick cooking tips.

Lemon Pepper Lionfish:

Take a Lionfish filet, sprinkle it with lemon pepper, and put it in a pan of hot olive oil. Lightly sear on both sides.

Lionfish Ceviche:

Cut your Lionfish filets into thin strips and place into a bowl of fresh squeezed lime juice. Add thinly sliced onions, bell peppers and carrots. Top with capers. Let it sit for at least five minutes before eating.

deep fried lionfish:

If you haven't filleted your Lionfish and still have the body, bones and all, you can simply score the flesh, dip it in batter and give it a fry until golden brown.


Thumbs up to Coral Magazine

Look for the June/July issue

Coral Magazine, a nationally published monthly print magazine, addresses the lionfish problem in their latest edition. Lionfishhunter.com was contacted and is quoted in the article. Please visit http://www.coralmagazineus.com/ or look for the magazine at your nearest news stand.