Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mmmm... lionfish... NOM NOM NOM NOM!!

Newcomer to Keys is unwelcome

The lionfish is a native of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but was introduced to Atlantic waters 16 years ago. Some blame the ballast of sea-going vessels. Others cite selfish aquarium owners, who dump the fish when they outgrow their tanks.


The lionfish hardly looks like the menace it is. It grows to a maximum of 20 inches long. Because of its exotic features -- the zebra striping and a feathery mane of fins -- it is a favorite for aquarium keepers.

''Lionfish are the No. 2 aquarium fish in the U.S., behind clownfish,'' said Bruce Purdy, owner of Davie-based Blackbeard's Cruises, which hosts Bahamas diving excursions.

But the beauty is a beast.

The first documented Atlantic sightings came days after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, when six lionfish were spotted in Biscayne Bay and traced to a private aquarium swept away from a Miami waterfront home.


If the lionfish multiply, Mitchell of REEF offers one possible remedy: Fishermen could start to catch them for commercial sale.

''They are delicious,'' she said. "Kind of like hogfish, but not quite as mild.''

Hogfish sounds tasty, but I kind-of doubt it tastes enough like pork... but I'd be willing to try either hogfish OR lionfish if the opportunity presented itself. Let's eat!

No comments: