Although captivating and unusual, the Lionfish is a rapacious and greedy feeder which can consume native fish and crustaceans up to several times its body weight each day. Compound this with the ability to reproduce quickly and not yet known to have many natural predators, it’s easy to understand why there are concerns about Lionfish populations in the waters of Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean Sea.
The Lionfish also has extremely venomous dorsal fins, resulting in severely painful stings, but this is rarely fatal for humans.
We saw this brilliant fellow on a night dive in Bonaire one fall evening, and at dusk we observed numerous Lionfish coming out of the reef to feed at once; it was quite a site to see.
When we returned the following year at the same site, we found almost no Lionfish at any dive site on Bonaire. Several restaurants and Bed & Breakfast establishments are now serving Lionfish on their menus, and these fish are actually quite delicious.
REEF.org has also been instrumental in their research and conservation efforts, along with assistance from local communities to track and reduce Lionfish populations.