The lionfish (Pterois volitans), also called firefish, is a special appearance with its large fins. With its many stripes this fish is also called the zebrafish. The various species of lionfish can have different colors from red and orange to dark brown. Originally these fish live in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but recently the lionfish is also common in the Caribbean including Bonaire.


KoraalduivelAs a nocturnal animal the lionfish poses a threat to the coral reef in the Caribbean. During the day they hide in crevices and under rocks. They eat small fish, shrimps, lobsters and squid that live at the coral reef and which have an important function for the feature of the coral reef.


The lionfish has almost no natural enemies. The stripes on the lionfish serve as a warning. The fish has a number of very long venomous spines to keep enemies away. Although this venom is very rarely fatal to humans, a sting with this venom is hugely unpleasant with a number of consequences. Almost immediately severe pain will occur. Hand and fingers for example will swell considerably. Other symptoms include nausea, fever, convulsions, vomiting and breathing difficulties. Because of the composition of the venom, it is necessary to hold the affected parts directly in water of at least 45 degrees Celsius. This will quickly make the venom harmless but medical assistance is still necessary.


To protect the coral reef there are programs to reduce the number of lionfish. Several diving schools offer a short course to educate people to hunt for the lionfish with a special spear. Although spear fishing on Bonaire is strictly prohibited for a long time, an exception is made to combat the lionfish. Many times the lionfish end on the menu of the local restaurants. Although the spines are venomous, eating a lion fish is completely safe and even delicious.


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