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In the Gulf of Mexico, the Lionfish threatens our marine ecosystem

Posted at 7:53 AM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 08:55:34-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas  — The lionfish is rather small compared to others, but experts say this venomous creature has a big impact on coral reefs including here in the Coastal Bend.

“They are distributed throughout the Indo-pacific, basically ranging from the Red Sea to Hawaii,” says Assistant Professor for the Department of Marine Science at UT, Simon Brandl.

A red-orange pattern across its back and spines along its sides. Brandl says you can see them at the Texas State Aquarium and in our waters.

“Here in our area, we’ll have them. The jetties the oil jigs, the piers, and everything,” says Brandl.

While it is beautiful, Brandl says the lionfish has a big impact on the marine ecosystem.

“These lionfish have a really easy time praying on the native fishes in the western Atlantic,” says Brandl.

Preying on more than 50 species like clam, fish, and shrimp. Those are all familiar menu items in the Coastal Bend.

Chef Ruben Arriaga has worked at Docks Seafood and Steaks for 11 years he says he knows how to prep and cook a lionfish, the tricky part is catching one.

“Some people like to hold their breathe and go under and spear but a lot of it is done by spearfishing,” says Arriaga.

Arriaga says lionfish are considered a threat to other sea life.

So, what can we do to help them out? The Texas State Aquarium suggests eating them.

That's one dish Arriaga says would surprise you.

“It is a white fish so any seasoning that you want to season it with, whatever flavor profile you want that fish to take on. It will take on,” he says.

How does Arriaga prep the lionfish? One thing you'll need is gloves.

“You would get what we call steel scissors and you would cut those barbs from the top and also on the sides just to be careful that you stab yourself with them because they are poisonous,” Arriaga explains.

This fish is difficult to catch but not impossible.

In Port Aransas, Fisherman's Warf dedicates itself to various types of fishing including, deep-sea fishing.

Charters will not only catch regular, edible fish but exotic fish like the lionfish. For more information click here.