Tag Archive | lionfish

#EatMoreLionfish, Creating a Demand


#EatMoreLionfish outreach flyer made by Luanettee’ Colebrooke.

#EatMoreLionfish is a new hashtag slowly gaining popularity on the social network scene. By creating a new demand for this invasive fish, locals can enjoy a new source of income without negatively impacting their local traditional stocks of Nassau Grouper, Queen Conch, and Spiny Lobster within The Bahamas.

The purpose of this is to create a ‘natural’ control of the species through the use of subsistence and commercial fishermen. When people ask for #lionfishjewelry or #lionfish to eat in local restaurants, vendors and souvenir shops, if enough requests are made, owners will ask fishermen for them. In turn, fishermen will head out and capture them.

Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick, also known as Dr. Lionfish on Twitter, encourages people to request this fish whenever possible.


(c) Image property of Cape Eleuthera Institute.

Have you tried this delicious predator?


#EnvironmentalEducation, Rock Sound Homecoming 2015


(L to R) Mackey (Deep Sea Researcher), Adrian (Sustainable Fisheries), Alexio (Sustainable Fisheries), Luanettee’ (Sustainable Fisheries), Alanna (Sustainable Fisheries), and Christina (Sharks). Photo courtesy of Alanna Waldman, SP15 Sustainable Fisheries Intern.

This past week was Homecoming for rock Sound, Eleuthera. Homecoming is a gathering within a settle or on an island where people ‘go home’ to their family island (any island outside of New Providence) for a few days of celebration, music, food, family and friends.


Luanettee’ speaking to some curious youth about the Lionfish display. Photo courtesy of Alanna Waldman, SP15 Sustainable Fisheries Intern.


Photo courtesy of Alanna Waldman, SP15 Sustainable Fisheries Intern.

Sustainabale Fisheries, Deep Sea Exploration and Sharks research programs were there holding the fort, bringing all ages and occupations to the table to learn about what we do and the opportunities for Bahamians at CEI. We talked heavily on the invasive species of lionfish, educating all on the venomous verses poisonous, their health benefits, and the increasing jewelry market for them. Deep Sea and Sharks strutted their stuff with a show of some interesting creatures they haul up from the deep sea (anything beyond 200M in depth).


Christina (R back row) talking with a local fisherman. Luanettee’ (R front listening and answering questions from curious bystanders. Photo courtesy of Alanna Waldman, SP15 Sustainable Fisheries Intern.

Fishermen came around wanting to learn more about our YOU SLAY WE PAY campaign down at the Institute. Our very own Alexio (Sustainable fisheries Research Assistant)  and Christina (Sharks Intern SP15) getting down and nitty gritty with them on the growing market for Lionfish.


Photo courtesy of Alanna Waldman, SP15 Sustainable Fisheries Intern.

It was a success, with many newly informed and interested in the research of The Bahamas.  Once all was done we packed up, we danced the rest of evening, enjoying food, music, and embracing my culture.

Have you ever been to a Bahamian event? What did you expect and how was it met? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next year 🙂

#Sustainablefoodandjewlery: Providing a New Economic Need from an Invasive Foe


Diving in the Acropora (staghorn) coral nursery. The bits grown here will be used on damaged patch reefs.

The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of adventure. With there being several different programs here, everyone is busy with either doing field work, data entry, or assisting each other. There is always something to find to do here. The other day, I had gone out to the coral nursery of Acropora (staghorn) and cleared my scuba diving check. Whoot! One step closer to Advance 😀

The staff here are heavily in community outreach. They provide information sessions and programs for the surrounding areas of the research conducted here, what it hopes to achieve, how it affects them directly, and dispel many local myths. In addition, they are beginning to hold monthly meetings for the Bahamian staff so that they are informed and can talk to others who have questions about what exactly is going on the site. One of the more fascinating presentations that I have been to is the one on lionfish. I wrote down several points that I found interesting:

General map to where documented sightings of lionfish in the Atlantic region. Photo from Discover: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/science-sushi/2013/03/22/new-girl-fishes-for-laughs-catches-terrible-episode/

  1. Lionfish are originally from the Indo-Pacific (That’s the Indonesia region). There are many myths as to how they were brought over such as from the balas of a ship. However, it is more believed that they arrived through the exotic aquarium trade. They are brightly coloured and slow to move, which make them ideal for aquariums. Even though this is true, they are generalists predators in nature in what they eat. Owners began to release them into their backyards or oceans (hoping nature takes its course) when they realized that these creatures were literally eating every fish in their tank that could fit into their mouths.
  2. Within their home range, there are several organisms that have evolved to eat these fish. For example frogfish.  In this part of the world, large predatory fish have not adapted to eating these creatures but we as humans can.

    Indopacific area. Photo from Lionfish Hunting: http://lionfish.co/lionfish-faq/

  3. They are carnivorous and habitat generalists. That is, they can live on the majority of environmental structures from seagrass, mangroves, coral reefs, artificial reefs, and depths up to 1000 ft! Their food source is ANYTHING that can fit into their mouths that protrudes out in a sucking motion. Interestingly, when their in insufficient for them to eat they either migrate to another area and/or resort to cannibalism (eat their own species). Their stomach can expand to up to 30 times the original size.

    Contents of a lionfish’s stomach. Stomach can stretch to 30 times its original size. The only thing that would stop a lionfish from eating is the size of its mouth. Photo from Lionfish Hunting: http://lionfish.co/cleaning-and-preparing-lionfish-to-eat/

  4. With an abundance of food, little to no predation, and ample space, their reproductive systems have changed to fit the environment. Females produce an egg sac with up to 20,000 eggs within it. In the Indo-Pacific, they tend to mate ONCE per year due to the environment and predatory pressures there. In this neck of the woods they can mate EVERY 4 DAYS!! That’s roughly 2 MILLION eggs per fish!
  5. They are VENOMOUS NOT POISONOUS. What does that mean? It means that they have  venom, similar to a snake and its fangs or a scorpion and its tail, in their spines. JUST THE SPINES have venom. Poison is an attribute given to organisms or subject that  if ingested can cause mild to severe health issues. For example, some amazon tree frogs or snails. So basically you can eat venomous animals!The lionfish has 18 venomous spines that are harmful. The sting is much like a bee sting, on one has died from a lionfish sting. To treat a sting soak area in hot water.   You can serve up the meat anyway you want. I prefer them deep fried 🙂 But whole baked jerk lionfish is also delicious!

13 dorsal, 2 pelvic, and 3 anal venomous spines for a total of 18. The other fins are safe to snip off and use in jewelry. Photo from Google Images.

Presentations like these are given not only to the visiting groups but also to the local community. This is important to spread awareness and break myths because the lionfish are here to stay. We can never get rid of them all (remember they can have up to 2MILLION eggs per year). It is interesting since we as humans have a tendency to overeat or overhunt something into extinction. All we can do is create a new form of economic value that people can use to create extra income. This is where workshops come into play within the surrounding community and eventually, out into the general Bahamas.

CEI encourages local fishermen to take extra care when spearing. Proper tools for those who wish to pursue this new endeavor of lionfishing are: 3 prong spear to prevent the fish from sliding down onto the fisherman, thick gloves that the spines will not pierce through, equipment to despine and fillet the fish, and a thermos with hot water to pour onto any spot that may get pricked..

LREP Manager Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick helps students plan the construction of holiday ornaments out of lionfish fins.

Dr. Jocelyn instucting how to decorate lionfish fins. Photo taken from blog.ceibahamas.org

There have been jewelry workshops as well for the local community. Here, CEI create an outreach program to encourage a new form of income that is growing in popularity: lionfish jewelry. You can see the work on their blog. To prepare the fins the lionfish must be despined first of all spines. Once this is completed, the spines can be let air dried and baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take them out and let cool. The remainder fins (dorsal, caudal, anal fins) that are on the fish can be removed, and set out to dry. When that is completed, you can decorate and make whatever you want 🙂

Rocking my lionfish earrings!

Have you every tried lionfish? What does it taste like to you? Would you try it now knowing that it is safe to eat once prepared properly? Let me know below in the comments.

For more details and information on lionfish, please look to these sources: CEI blog, and CEI website.

Yummy, Lion Fish are Tasty!!


Pan fried goodness.

All day on the boat till about 1800 with a surprise for us all: LION FISH!! That’s right, we had Lion Fish tonight. We speared it, filleted it, cooked it, and ate every last bit of it.


lion fish tend to hid out in crevices and ledges. Some of them end up belly up on the underside of the ledge. Be careful while taking a peek. You may come face to face with one.


Bright orange/red or even slightly darker with white stripes. It is slow moving and floats around its home area.

The reason why we had Lion Fish for dinner is because we decided we might as well eat it if we are going to eradicate it from this reef while boating in between research sites. Lion fish are an invasive species on this side of the world. They originate from the Indo-Pacific and made their way to Florida. How? The word goes that they were brought over for an aquarium (do not know if private or public) and either released into the ocean or the aquarium broke/flooded during a storm and ended in the ocean. A similar story to the snakes in the everglades. Now they are multiplying in the Caribbean waters and are down to Bermuda currently.


De-spinning lion fish.

They have spines all over the fin portions of their bodies. Most of the time, they are stationary creatures, suspending in the water under crevices and ledges. Their diet consist of anything they can get into their mouths and have no active sea predators in this region. So they devastate a reef by eating anything smaller than them. In The Bahamas, there are now Lion Fish Derbys and cooking contests to encourage fishermen and locals to spear them on site. Groups and organizations encourage these contests to destroy the thought that Lion Fish cannot be eaten. They are technically safer to eat then a puffer fish when you think about it.


Speared through the gill.

The way to a perfect Lion Fish begins with the spearing. Make sure you aim straight for the head/brain or through the gills. The brain shot almost guarantees an instant kill. As long as it can pierce through without drawing blood. If you spear through anything but the head area, there is a possibility of blood and a higher risk  of some hungry sharks showing up.


Kitchen scissors not strong enough. Lion fish was in a cooler that gradually warmed making it slightly safer to handle. WEAR GLOVES!!

Once you spear, place in a cooler till ready to prep. My colleague began to use a kitchen knife and scissors to cut through the spines. Unfortunately, they weren’t strong enough so he went for the big guns: a cutlass and hammer. Once the spines are removed the fish is fine to eat.

Snapshot - 20

A clean hammer and cutlass were able to cut through the spines. Do not miss and hit your fingers by mistake!

The spines are where the poison for the fish is, not the entire body like a puffer fish. The spines are tough to snip through so using the hammer and cutlass provided enough force to cut through the spines at the base. Be careful while doing this, gloves are highly recommended just in case the poison is still active in the spines. Remove the scales and guts, and cut the meat how you desire to cook it.

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We had them dredged and deep fried along with some Blue Stripped grunts. Some white rice and steamed cabbage and spinach, huzzah! The meat is white and flaky similar to salmon. For me, the meat took on the seasons flavor used instead of its natural flavor popping out. So it’s a very mild flavor that tends to take on whatever seasoning is used. The meat is soft and the bones are not hard.


Calf doing some head flops into the water.

Throughout our regularly routine sites, we encountered several bottlenose dolphins and a sperm whale today. Some poop samples as well came our way for the whale.

Overall, 4 very happy and full day for us scientists.