The Lionfish is a venomous marine fish, native to the Indo-Pacific. It’s closely related to scorpionfish, with other common names including Butterfly Cod and Zebrafish. There are currently 12 recognised species in the genus, all of whom are characterised by bright bands of colour, and flamboyant spines and tentacles.
The Lionfish is a skilled hunter of mostly small fish and crustacea, and deploys a range of techniques to disorientate and catch prey. It possess a specialised swim bladder which enables exquisite control over its movements both in the water and on the sand. It blow jets of water as it approaches prey, causing confusion and encouraging the prey to turn towards it for easy capture. And its uses its large, spine-covered pectoral fins to herd prey, before swallowing it whole in lightning speed.
Lionfish possess a potent venom which, if injected in a human, can result in nausea, vomiting, extreme discomfort, even death. They are generally hostile and territorial in nature, and should be given a wide berth by divers. Their nature, as well as toxicity, has resulted in population explosions across numerous coral reefs, with some Lionfish now considered problematic ‘invasion species’.