While I was at conference last week, I had the opportunity to visit an aquarium. Actually, it was part of our conference to mix and mingle at an aquarium after hours. It was heaven for science people to get to walk around with wine, beer, or soda and snacks and chat with other science people and admire the creatures without the general public being there too. It was like watching children in adult bodies as we marveled at the different fish and critters! I’m sure I heard several shrieks of joy and laughter as we explored the aquarium. It is definitely an experience I will cherish for years to come!
At the aquarium, I fell in love with the lionfish. They are so unique and one in particular was so friendly (can fish be “friendly?”) and photogenic! So today’s learning topic is the lionfish and I can share some of my photos from the aquarium with you. 🙂
Lionfish are native to the central and western Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea. I was suprised to learn that this beautiful fish with the flowy pectoral fins is venomous. It’s stings are very painful for humans and other creatures but the stings usually aren’t fatal. Lionfish have 18 doral needle-like fins! Fortunately for other sea creatures, these fins are strictly defensive and aren’t used to attack. Lionfish are about 12-15 inches long and weigh up to 2.5 pounds. They rely on their camoflauged appearance and speed to capture their food (mostly shrimp and smaller fish). Lionfish are known to be hostile toward other fish and humans. They have became an invasive species in some areas (especially in the Carribean and western Atlantic Ocean) and efforts are being made to control the population. In 2010, Florida began issues licenses for divers to kill lionfish and many groups are organizing hunting expeditions to help control the invasive species. Although it is venomous, the lionfish can be eaten by humans if cooked properly. Don’t worry little Lionfish, I don’t eat fish. 😉