Lionfish – Curaçao

The Lionfish is an astounding creature. It’s amazing and it looks mighty to me. However, this fish also causes a lot of trouble. It reproduces extremely fast and their larvae can travel far distances in the ocean. Therefore, the lionfish is seen as an invasive species. It tends to eat reef fish and his spines are highly venomous. Getting stung by one of his spines is not only extremely painful, but it can also cause death in some cases. It is for those reasons that Lionfish should be captured when seen, though it is unfortunately not possible to completely eradicate them. Larvae keep flowing in and the lionfish itself can hide in depths of 175 m deep.

Figure 1 Lionfish in the sea. Source:

In 2009 the first Lionfishes were spotted in Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean. Their natural enemy has disappeared by overfishing, so it had to be hunted ever since, to save the beautiful reefs surrounding the island. Luckily, they are good to eat and for that reason, they are being sold to local restaurants. Go to Sol Food (Westpunt), Iguana Café (Willemstad), or Pirate Bay (Piscadera) to try it yourself. It is high in Omega 3, so it is even highly nutritious.

Besides that, Lionfish meat is not only eaten, but their spines and skin are now also being used to produce jewelry. That makes this a really sustainable product. If you are at Curaçao, go take a look at the Mon Art Gallery in Rif Fort, At Porto Mari Sports, Scubacao in Marie Pampoen, or at Ocean Encounters at Sea Aquarium. If you are a fanatic diver, who likes the thrill of hunting down fish, then please take a look at They will teach you everything about this new experience!

I  have been a vegetarian for over two years now. I do highly believe in my choice, but I also know that people in Curaçao are not yet entirely familiar with the phenomenon ‘Vegetarian’. Living here for 5 months was not as hard as I expected it to be. I primarily cooked my own meals, so leaving out meat and fish was not hard at all. However, whenever I went to a restaurant, the choices were pretty limited. There are often some vegetarian dishes, but they were either the same everywhere or otherwise quite expensive. Besides that, I realized that I am a vegetarian, but also a biologist. Conservation of nature, in this particular case the reefs of Curaçao, is also very important to me. In conclusion, I will not be preparing meat or fish myself, but if I happen to go to a restaurant without any good vegetarian choices, I will choose the Lionfish, in order to save the reefs instead of pointlessly having killed an animal.


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Article written by Manon Verijdt

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