Lionfish Stings and How to Treat Them

Lionfish are not native to Florida. They were introduced from South America in the late 1800’s. These fish have been known to cause problems since their introduction into the waters of Florida. There have been reports of them eating small fishes and even humans when they get too close to shore or enter shallow water areas near beaches. The problem with these invasive species is that they reproduce quickly and spread rapidly throughout ecosystems, often displacing native species completely.

The first reported case of a human being stung by a lionfish was in 1995. Since then there have been many other cases of people getting stung by lionfish. Most victims experience no symptoms but some do develop severe skin rashes, swelling and redness at the site of the bite. Other times victims suffer deep cuts and puncture wounds which may require medical attention if treated promptly.

In recent years, the number of people becoming seriously ill after being bitten by lionfish has increased. Some victims have died while others developed life threatening conditions such as internal bleeding, organ failure and even heart attacks. The only way to prevent this type of attack is to avoid contact with lionfish altogether. However, it appears that there are ways to reduce your chances of getting stung by a lionfish or any other invasive species in general. Our guide provides you with some useful information that you can employ on a day to day basis.

We hope you find it useful and please contact us if you have any questions.

Lionfish are typically found in waters that are at least 20 feet deep. They are also usually found at a distance from other types of reefs and rocks where other fishes like to gather. If you intend on snorkeling, scuba diving or free-diving, it is important that you pay close attention to your surroundings so that you do not end up stung by a lionfish. Also, do not touch or go near lionfish as this may cause them to attack with their poisonous spines. If you have been stung by a lionfish, seek medical attention immediately as some of the species’ venom can be deadly if left untreated.

It is important to note that only some lionfish are poisonous and even then, only their spines contain the venom. The best way to tell whether a lionfish is poisonous or not is by looking at its stripes. If the fish has straight stripes then there is a good chance that it is poisonous. However, this rule does not apply to all lionfish so you should still exercise caution even if the fish you see has wavy stripes.

Fortunately, there are measures you can take to repel lionfish from your area. Some of the best methods for repelling lionfish include the use of sounds and smells. For instance, you can hang CDs in the water and this will scare any lionfish in the general vicinity. In addition, lionfish are also afraid of noises such as those made by radio or TV static. Another method for repelling lionfish is to expose them to certain smells.

It is common knowledge that smells can have a powerful impact on one’s emotions. For instance, if you have ever entered a house that is filled with the scent of fresh baked cookies then you will probably feel more at ease than if you had entered a house where there was a smell of rotting garbage. The same concept applies to lionfish. You can use this knowledge to your advantage by spreading the odors of certain foods in areas that you want to keep lionfish away from. It has been found that the scent of certain nuts such as macadamia and cashew are particularly distasteful to lionfish. You can use these nuts to make a paste and smear it on the rocks near your home. Over time, the scent will dissipate and this should effectively keep lionfish away.

Another way you can prevent the spread of lionfish into new waters is by ensuring that any fishing equipment you may have is safely stored away when not in use. For instance, if you keep your fishing equipment on the beach when you are done using it for the day then this may provide easy access for lionfish to crawl into your equipment. They may end up hiding in the sand, in some of the pockets or even in the net itself and once the sun sets, they are free to crawl all over your equipment as well as any other items near it such as your towels or flip-flops. This can not only cause a mess but can also cause an infestation in your area.

As of right now, the lionfish is the only invasive species known to be responsible for destroying entire ecosystems. There are many theories as to how this occurred and one of the most common ways that invasive species get to new locations is through irresponsible humans who buy animals as pets and then decide they do not want them anymore. Lionfish are a prime example of this. They are very popular in the aquarium trade even though they are not a good choice as a pet due to their venomous spines. Even if owners handle them very carefully there is still a chance that the lionfish could escape into the wild and once one lionfish manages to do so, others will most likely follow.

Another common way invasive species spread is through ballast water. When most ships travel from one place to another they take on water to help balance themselves. New research has shown that this ballast water tends to harbor a lot of invasive species. Many of these non-native species go undetected until they have already been released into an ecosystem.

Fortunately, you can help stop the spread of invasive species in several ways. You can start by educating yourself about invasive species in your area. Find out what kinds are present and what the biggest threats are. The Internet or your local library should be able to provide you with this information.

Once you know what species are invasive, you should do your best to eliminate them from your area completely. Whether this means capturing them and releasing them away from humans, or killing them, it is important that the species you choose to eliminate is actually considered invasive. Once again, doing some research can help make this process a whole lot easier.

It may also be beneficial to talk to local fishermen or other people that have had experience dealing with invasive species. They may have valuable information that can help you in your mission.

A final way you can help is by supporting government regulation on the pet trade. While this issue may not directly affect you, irresponsible pet owners can be a major cause of invasive species. By encouraging governments to place restrictions on the trade of certain animals you can help slow down the spread of invasives.

We may never be able to stop invasive species from spreading but that does not mean we can’t try our best to slow them down. One person really can make a difference!

Arctic Poaching

While it may be hard for some people to believe, there are still tribes of people out in the world that have yet to come in contact with other humans. These people live as their ancestors did, without the trappings of the modern world. While some people may think this is a wonderful thing, there are those that would like nothing more than to exploit these people and their land for profit.

One of the most blatant cases of exploitation can be seen in the Arctic. For hundreds of years the Inuit tribe has called the artic home. The harsh environment has kept much of the world away from this area but recently a new threat has appeared in the form of oil drilling. Oil exploration is taking place on the shores of the Arctic and the results have been disastrous so far. So much damage has already been done to this once pristine land that several species of animals, including the polar bear, are becoming endangered.

The oil companies working in the area have set up safety measures to prevent damage to the environment but as with most human endeavors, these safety measures are rarely adhered to. The workers living on the rigs often burn trash which releases toxins into the air. There have also been incidents of damaged oil rigs leaking oil into the surrounding waters.

So far nothing that couldn’t be fixed but lately there have been increasing amounts of problems. A few of the oil rigs have caught fire due to poor wiring and some oil rigs have had to be shut down for lacking the proper safety measures in place. There was also an incident involving the remains of a rig that had been decommissioned years before. The company in charge of the decommissioning went out of business and no one was around to handle removing the rig so it just sat there for years. Unfortunately, a storm damaged the structure and it began to sink.

Due to shifting ice it ultimately fell onto another rig, causing serious damage. This could have been prevented if the proper safety inspections had been done on time.

These incidents have been thankfully been rare but with more rigs being set up each year, the chance for a major disaster will continue to rise. The oil industry is also requesting to start drilling in areas that are not only ecologically sensitive but also closer towards the mainland. One proposed oil field is located just off the coast of Alaska and experts are already warning of the dangers this could pose if an oil leak were to ever occur. This one oil field alone could result in hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil being dumped into the ocean each year.

The Inuit Tribe that inhabits the area is largely opposed to these oil rigs being placed in such a sensitive area. They are joined by several environmental groups that have spoken out about this as well. The oil companies, on the other hand, have tried to assure everyone that they will exercise the utmost care when it comes to these fields as not to damage the environment. Who to believe is up to you.

You’ve heard enough and you thank the man for the information he has provided. He returns to his seat and you gather up your papers. As you are walking out the door, the man calls out to you, asking if you would like a ride back to town in a few hours since his vehicle is going that way. You agree and head outside where you find that it is already dark outside. “Should have asked him what time it was” you mumble to yourself as you look up in the sky to try to get a bearing on where the North Star is.

You find it soon enough and spot the Big Dipper nearby. Using these two points you are able to identify the North Star and know which way is north.

You are about to start walking when someone calls out to you, asking if you are ready to go. It’s the man who gave you the information. “Sure” you answer and climb into the passenger seat of his Jeep.

As you settle into your seat, you can’t help but notice the odd emblem on the door of the jeep. It consists of a circle with a tilted cross inside it. Since there are no other cars around, you don’t bother asking about it. Instead you just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Your driver seems like he would be an interesting person to talk to. He is the type that seems to exude friendliness. However, you don’t want to be rude and you would rather get back home as soon as possible. So, instead of talking to him, you decide to watch the passing scenery and ponder the question he asked you earlier:

What is more important, humanity or the environment?”

You can’t help but think that the question is a little abstract. It’s not something you would expect a person to ask on a roadside sign, even in Alaska. No, there is something more going on here and while you don’t believe the man is planning to do you any harm, you still are pretty sure that the answer you give will have some importance to the man.

Of course, the answer you give could also be neutral and just be the right thing to say to get out of there. After all, he did say that he would drop you off at your destination once you reached town. This makes you wonder if giving the correct answer will just satisfy him and get you out of there or if it will have some other reward. After all, he did mention that he had something important to tell you.

The Big Dipper appears to be in the same spot in the sky as it was when you were talking to the man. If you had to guess, you would say that it is probably still a few hours before midnight. You can’t be certain though since you didn’t check the time before leaving the motel and every hour seems to last twice as long when you are lost in thought.

Whatever answer you come to, you will have to decide soon. The man has been nothing but friendly to you, but there is still a part of you that is leery of his motivations. However, if you don’t say anything, he is going to start getting suspicious especially when you fail to give an answer.

So what do you do?

Sources & references used in this article:

A case study of lionfish sting-induced paralysis by RB Badillo, W Banner, JA Morris Jr… – Aquaculture …, 2012 – search.proquest.com

Lionfish dissection: Techniques and applications by SJ Green, JL Akins, JA Morris – 2012 – repository.library.noaa.gov

Venom of the lionfish Pterois volitans by PR Saunders, PB Taylor – American Journal of Physiology …, 1959 – journals.physiology.org

Envenomation by the invasive Pterois volitans species (lionfish) in the French West Indies – a two-year prospective study in Martinique by D Resiere, L Cerland, L De Haro, R Valentino… – Clinical …, 2016 – Taylor & Francis

Scorpaenidae envenomation: a five-year poison center experience by KW Kizer, HE McKinney, PS Auerbach – Jama, 1985 – jamanetwork.com