Floridians hunt invasive lionfish


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/30/floridians-hunt-invasive-lion.html


I knew I’d read about the delicious lion fish here before!


Invasive and deceitful.

Tell the truth for once, Lion Fish!


No Florida man joke, sorry.

Don’t worry, I’m sure it won’t be long before one of us is testicularly impaled while having sex with a meth-filled one in a Walmart parking lot.


Sorry, I don’t think you can eradicate them by over-fishing if they can live solitary lives below 1000 feet from the Carolinas to Brazil, so science is going to have to come up with something else. Fishing derbies are a stop-gap measure to save reefs and populations until we find something better.

Floridians hunt invasive lion fish
I tried it, but when I dropped the leashes all my dogfish just swam away.


They’re a problem on the Gulf side as well. The Dauphin Island Estuarium has an exhibit encouraging people to catch and eat lion fish.

I would if I could find a restaurant that served 'em.


You should hope so - they’re delicious. Very firm fleshed fish.


I’m a scientist, and I’ve been working in Curacao on various reef fish projects for the past twelve years. Seeing the lionfish come in was honestly amazing. It’s typically somewhat rare to see a successful predation event on a reef; there are predators, and they’re successful often enough to persist, but the local species all know who’s trying to eat them and are somewhat prepared. When a bar jack or something comes by, you can see almost everything on the reef break for cover. The first few years after the lionfish moved in to Curacao, though, we’d see multiple successful predation events by lionfish per dive and the locals just didn’t even seem to understand what was happening.

After a few years, though, the native fish seem to have picked up on the fact that those floating giant dandelion thingies are actually quite nasty, and we just don’t see them getting eaten anywhere near as much any more. Obviously it’s still happening because we see lionfish all over, but it’s clear that it’s not quite the effortless buffet it used to be. One hopes that this means the long term effects of lionfish on the reef won’t be quite as bad as they initially appeared, but I guess time will tell. I’m pretty skeptical about our chances of getting rid of them for good; it’s a big ocean and they go really, really deep.


As a vegetarian who cares about the environment, I think I might actually eat lionfish if given a chance. Might have to put some bacon on it too.


Florida man is no joke!


Don’t judge me, brah.


Ha! Joke is on you!


Thanks for the explanation. It did seem crazy that fish couldn’t see that gaudy fish coming. We have a related native fish in the Northeast, the Sea Robin, that is considered trash by game fishermen but is actually quite tasty too.


Lion fish killing robots!


Sorry, all I got is a naked gun reference


I love sea robins!

Fish, like most animals, are actually really good at learning anything that has to do with one of three topics: (1) what can I eat, (2) what is trying to eat me, and (3) what do I have to do to get laid. So the natives learn about the lionfish, but the lionfish also learn about the spear fishermen. I’m working on a project now where we’re spearing some lionfish, and when we go out it could not be more obvious which populations have been speared recently and which have not. The lionfish in undisturbed populations are bold as can be, caring not one whit that you have a spear cocked literally centimeters from their face. The ones from populations that are fished regularly are all stuffed up under rocks during the day, and you’re just sorta hoping you’ll see a spear-able bit through some hole in the reef.

I’ve actually done a bit of hook and line fishing underwater too (i.e., we’re on scuba and have a reel of line with a hook on it), and the difference there is even cooler; you’ll see fish with mouths too small to hook (wrasses, damsels, etc.) happily swim up and peck-peck-peck away at your bait, while the ones that are hook-able will often swim up, look really closely, and swim away. You can seriously almost see them say “hahaha fuck that, it’s got a hook in it”.

tldr; On the grand scale of things fish aren’t super smart, but when you get in their wheelhouse (food, survival, and sex), they are much more clever than people give them credit for.


I’d be in favor of eating the buggahs (at least they are tasty, unlike some other invasive species), but they look like they are 2/3 venomous pointy ends, with maybe a half pound of filet at most after you get past the spurs. Is the game worth the candle?


I think this is a great concept for a poster. Or a children’s book. Or something.