Lionfish are coming to a town near you and you can do your part to make sure they don’t feel welcome–by eating them. “The best way to shoot them is with a three-pronged pole spear (paralyzer spear), that way they can’t slide down the spear and nick you. Plus they’re pretty small, so the three prongs make it easier to shoot them,” said Joe Fernandez, of Miami.
Once you’ve shot the fish, handle it by its head. Alecia Adamson, from Reef.org, points out that you should pay special attention to how you handle these fish. Lionfish do not inject venom like a snake’s fangs. Lionfish have 18 venomous spines total, mostly on their dorsal (back) and on their underside (each pelvic fin has a spine and there are 3 on the anal fin). Tissues at the base of the spines secrete venom into a groove that runs along the spine. When you are stung by one of the dorsal or anal spines, your puncture wound is exposed to that venom. So be careful!
Plus, you can be stung even after the fish is dead. Alecia recounted one story where a fish pulled from a freezer stung the person handling the lionfish. Heat denatures the venom, but because the fish are tasty, they’re often thrown into the ice cooler to preserve the meat. One method divers use is to snip the spines immediately after they have been speared.
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