Lionfish on the prowl (#16A)

Lionfish (this one is around 7 inches in length) are among the more toxic predators of the reef-- their dorsal fins (top along spine) are hollow barbs capable of injection poisonous venom into a predator unfortunate enough to approach too closely. Typically they assume a fanned-out, fins-erect posture when approached by a potential predator such as a diver, pointing the dorsal fins toward the threat. Once I was photographing a small one and crowded it a little too much, causing it to lunge into my gloved hand as it tried to escape-- one dorsal fin penetrated my thin glove and gave me a sting. Fortunately the fin barely broke the skin. I suffered numbness and moderate pain in one finger for a few minutes but was otherwise unhurt.

Lionfish are generally slow swimmers but are capable of lightning-quick moves over a few inches to strike out at unsuspecting victims, usually small fish. They are frequently seen traveling in pairs.

Identification: Pterois ? (genus Pterois, uncertain of species)

lionfish  #78A
black lionfish

lionfish pair
lionfish pair

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