Lionfish (also known as turkeyfish) have venomous spines that can be very painful.
Viewed from the right angle, the ornate fins of the lionfish resemble turkey plumage. That's why 'turkeyfish' is one of the many imaginative names people use when referring to the lionfish. Here are a few more common names:
Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific, but are now established along the southeast coast of the U.S., the Caribbean, and in parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
Since lionfish are not native to Atlantic waters, they have very few predators. They are carnivores that feed on small crustaceans and fish, including the young of important commercial fish species such as snapper and grouper.
How lionfish will affect native fish populations and commercial fishing industries has yet to be determined. What is known is that non-native species can dramatically affect native ecosystems and local fishing economies. Experts are carefully studying these invaders to better understand their role in, and threat to, Atlantic Ocean ecosystems.
When it comes to the invasive lionfish, say NOAA scientists, 'If we can't beat them, let's eat them!'
Did you know that lionfish happen to be quite tasty? Once stripped of its venomous spines, cleaned, and filleted like any other fish, the lionfish becomes delectable seafood fare.
Avoid consuming lionfish from locations known to be affected by ciguatera toxins. Check with local and state authorities if in doubt. Learn more about ciguatera from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.