« Posts under lionfish sting

The Truth About Getting Stung by a Lionfish

Posted by Erin Spencer in Explorers Journal on August 8, 2013

“It won’t kill you, but it’ll make you wish you were dead”.

That’s how Mike Ryan described a lionfish sting as he briefed a boat full of people before an afternoon dive. Mike, an instructor at Horizon Divers in Key Largo, developed the Lionfish Safari Diver course for recreational divers to learn about invasive lionfish and try their hand at hunting the fish themselves. For a group of inexperienced hunters, that was probably the last thing we wanted to hear.

That wasn’t the first time someone warned me about the stings of this invasive predator. When you’re dealing with lionfish, the topic is bound to come up. In almost every interview I conducted, the conversation eventually turned to a dramatically recounted story of the time (or times) the interviewee was stung, each tale more cringe-worthy than the last. And while it’s clear that getting pricked by a lionfish is no walk in the park, stings can be easily avoided by proper handling techniques and safety measures. Be sure to keep the following three things in mind when dealing with lionfish to decrease your risk of getting stung.

Lionfish stings can occur long after the fish has died. Photo by Erin Spencer.

Lionfish stings can occur long after the fish has died. Photo by Erin Spencer.

Lionfish spines are used defensively, not offensively.

Lionfish spines are used as a deterrent for predators rather than for hunting prey. So don’t worry- lionfish aren’t about to ambush unsuspecting divers or swimmers. Lionfish only use their weapons defensively; therefore simply steering clear of their venomous dorsal, ventral, and anal spines can avoid stings.

If you are stung, a loose sheath surrounding each spine is pushed down, compressing two venom glands located down then length of the spine. Neurotoxic venom then travels through two parallel grooves up the spine and into the wound. Sounds unpleasant, right? Better just to avoid the spines in the first place.

Lionfish safety applies both on and off the water. 

The overwhelming majority of lionfish stings result from people simply not paying attention.

Stings can occur even after the lionfish is dead.

Stings can occur even after the fish have died, so handlers should be aware of their lionfish at all times, whether they are underwater, on a boat, or back in the kitchen filleting the fish up for dinner. I heard many stories of victims unknowingly sticking their hands into coolers containing lionfish and finding a painful surprise inside.

 

So make sure everyone you’re with knows where the lionfish are located, as well as which of the fishes’ spines are dangerous. Some handlers (myself included) choose to use medical-grade puncture-proof gloves to help protect from stings. Although these gloves don’t protect all potential sting sites, they decrease the risk of accidental envemonation when handling the fish.

Puncture-proof gloves are a great way to decrease your risk of getting stung. Photo by Eric Billips

Puncture-proof gloves are a great way to decrease your risk of getting stung. Photo by Eric Billips

Just in case, know what to do if you get stung.

Even if you follow all the safety precautions, sometimes mistakes happen. Immediate first response can help decrease pain and swelling, so have a plan in place if you or anyone you’re with is going to be handling lionfish. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends immersing the wound in hot (but not scalding) water for about 30 minutes as soon as possible after the sting occurs – this helps denature the lionfish venom and decrease pain.

If necessary, remove any spines still located in the wound. Lionfish stings are rarely fatal, but in extreme cases nausea, vomiting, and allergic reactions can result, so monitor symptoms closely. One spear fisherman swore that if someone had offered to amputate his stung foot, he would have accepted the invitation gladly.

On the other hand, a divemaster I spoke with said he barely noticed the pain when he was stung, and didn’t experience any swelling or adverse effects. Ultimately, everyone seems to respond to stings differently. Most people I talked to experienced some pain and swelling for anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

The important thing to remember is this: the more you know about stings, the more effectively you can prevent them. Pay attention to your lionfish at all times and have a plan in place in case you or a friend gets stung. There are quite a few examples of people who have dealt with large quantities of lionfish and have never been stung, proving that with proper handling and a bit of luck, you can avoid envenomation. But remember, on the off chance you do get pricked, you’ll at least have a great lionfish war-story to tell your friends.

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com

Lionfish continue to populate, pose threats to coral reefs

By Annie Chambers..U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Jacksonville District

Their dorsal spines and zebra-like bodies may draw one in for a closer look. Commonly used in aquariums for show, the invasive lionfish has made its way from the South Pacific and Indian Oceans to the east coast. In the past decade, they’ve been rapidly expanding from Florida to North Carolina, as well as the Caribbean.

A red lionfish swims in the Atlantic Ocean. The aquarium trade is the most likely explanation for the invasion of the lionfish in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lionfish may live longer than 15 years and reach sizes exceeding 20 inches. Their venomous spines are capable of fending off predators and stinging humans, according to the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), an active organization of divers and marine enthusiasts. Lionfish reproduce throughout the year, nearly every four days, and females can spawn over 2 million eggs per year.

Lionfish are venomous and have up to 18 needle-like spines.  However, the meat of the lionfish is not poisonous. If stung, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends treating a puncture wound by immersing it in hot water for 30-90 minutes, and seeking medical attention as soon as possible. The Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 is available 24 hours a day.

Coral reef community population structure and dynamics are at risk as a result of the influx of lionfish. These predators out-compete other species such as fish and invertebrates for food resources and they have few known predators, according to NOAA’s Coral Reef Information System (CORIS) website.

NOAA’s experts believe that lionfish populations will continue to grow and are unable to be controlled with conventional methods. Lionfish are established along the southeastern coast of the United States, Bermuda, the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently waived the recreational fishing license requirement to harvest lionfish. The change allows divers to easily assist in the control of the lionfish population. This will allow people to take as many of the invasive fish as possible.
NOAA and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as well as professional and recreational diving communities are working to help remove and control lionfish. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission encourages people to remove lionfish; they can be speared, caught in hand-held nets or caught on hook and line. Lionfish can be reported to REEF’s

Photo: NOAA

LionFish-kit

Big Lionfish Found at Disturbing Depths

LiveScience.com

by Megan Gannon, News Editor July 14, 2013NatureFlorida
Big Lionfish Found at Disturbing Depths

Lionfish gather near the doorway of this sunken ship, the Bill Boyd, in this image taken by researchers …

The relentless scourge of lionfish has crept to unexpected depths: Off the coast of Florida, researchers say they found the venomous invader thriving around a sunken ship at 300 feet (91 meters) below the water’s surface.

“We expected some populations of lionfish at that depth, but their numbers and size were a surprise,” researcher Stephanie Green, of Oregon State University, said in a statement.

Last month, Green and colleagues investigated the seafloor near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in a deep-diving Antipodes sub. At 300 feet (91 m) deep, the team witnessed a large number of the spiny fish near the intentionally sunken Bill Boyd cargo ship, an artificial reef created in 1986. [See Photos of Lionfish & Other Freaky Fish]

While lionfish are typically between 12 and 15 inches (30 to 38 centimeters) long, the Oregon State researchers say they saw unusually large specimens as big as 16 inches (40 cm) long.

“This was kind of an ‘Ah hah!’ moment,” Green said. “It was immediately clear that this is a new frontier in the lionfish crisis, and that something is going to have to be done about it. Seeing it up-close really brought home the nature of the problem.”

Big Lionfish Found at Disturbing Depths
A popular aquarium fish and invasive predator, lionfish have a fan of soft, waving fins and venomous …

Native to tropical Indo-Pacific waters, lionfish were introduced to the Atlantic by humans in the 1990s, likely through the exotic pet trade. Now found in reefs from North Carolina to South America, the rapidly reproducing invasive fish have voracious appetites, gobbling up native fish and competing with other species for food resources.

Worse, lionfish have no natural enemies in Atlantic waters, except spear gun-toting humans. Another study, detailed online July 11 in the journal PLOS ONE, found that not even sharks can curb red lionfish populations in Caribbean reefs.

Researchers are trying to figure out what is keeping lionfish in check in the Pacific so that they might stem the Atlantic invasion, which thus far has looked to be unstoppable. Prepared correctly, lionfish are said to make a tasty meal, but one prick from the fish’s venomous spine can cause excruciating pain. Lionfish derbies to bring in big catches of the predator have been held in Florida and the Caribbean.

“A lionfish will eat almost any fish smaller than it is,” Green said in a statement. “Regarding the large fish we observed in the submersible dives, a real concern is that they could migrate to shallower depths as well and eat many of the fish there. And the control measures we’re using at shallower depths — catch them and let people eat them — are not as practical at great depth.”

Lionfish also can produce far more offspring when they are large. A big, mature female in some species can have up to 10 times as many offspring as a female that’s half its size, researchers say.

Bermuda Fire Coral..a painful experience

Millepora alcicornus is a common member of the Caribbean reefs and across the Bermuda platform. These hydrozoans are members of the family Milleporidae.  The hydrocorals can be found in varying habitats including deep reefs, surf zones and reef flats but are restricted mainly to coral reefs.  M. alcicornis gets its name fire coral from the painful stings it can inflict on Scuba divers and snorkelers.

Fire coral Fist Aid Kits

FireCoral-kit

Don’t get stung without it!

Jellyfish facts…Everything you need to know…

Jellyfish are categorized due to their characteristics. The different species of jellyfish are the Red Type which is also known as the ‘China type’ can be identified as Rhopilema esculentum. These jellyfish are slightly reddish with a 12-24 inch diameter smooth umbrella.

The jellyfish is a popular seafood in eastern and southern Asian nations where there is a high market demand that stimulates large-scale jellyfish production. Due to its economic importance in China, many biological studies have focused on the jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye in terms of the environmental impact of aquaculture activities and culture techniques. In recent years, the commercial aquaculture of R. esculentum has expanded greatly in China

Key Lab of Marine Environmental Science and Ecology, Ministry of Education, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, 266100, China
Photo..M Kawahara

Lionfish concern at Forida’s Reef

Pretty much everything about the venomous lionfish—its red-and-white zebra stripes, long, showy pectoral fins, and generally cantankerous demeanor—says, “Don’t touch!”

The venom of the lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins, is purely defensive. It relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture prey, mainly fish and shrimp. A sting from a lionfish is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.

Lionfish, also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish, are native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific, although they’ve found their way to warm ocean habitats worldwide.

Currently they are a big cause for concern at Florida’s reef as they have few natural enemies such as some big shark species. They are taking over in large numbers and multiplying quickly eating many other endangered reef fish. Speculation of their release ranges from Hurricane Sandy’s destructive path to mis-guided fish collectors that released them when they could not make money from their sale.

Celene Couseau ( http://celinecousteau.wordpress.com/ ) has attested to their tasting good making them somewhat popular to very careful spear fishermen.

Learn, Connect, Defend!
www.OceanDefenderHawaii.com

Some of the information above is from National Geographic
Photo: Andy Wingate (tagged)

Photo: Pretty much everything about the venomous lionfish—its red-and-white zebra stripes, long, showy pectoral fins, and generally cantankerous demeanor—says, "Don't touch!"

The venom of the lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins, is purely defensive. It relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture prey, mainly fish and shrimp. A sting from a lionfish is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.

Lionfish, also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish, are native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific, although they've found their way to warm ocean habitats worldwide.

Currently they are a big cause for concern at Florida's reef as they have few natural enemies such as some big shark species. They are taking over in large numbers and multiplying quickly eating many other endangered reef fish. Speculation of their release ranges from Hurricane Sandy's destructive path to mis-guided fish collectors that released them when they could not make money from their sale. 

Celene Couseau ( http://celinecousteau.wordpress.com/ ) has attested to their tasting good making them somewhat popular to very careful spear fishermen. 

Learn, Connect, Defend!
www.OceanDefenderHawaii.com

Some of the information above is from National Geographic
Photo: Andy Wingate (tagged)

Stingray Season in Florida..April to October

Stingray season on Florida beaches runs approximately between the months of April and October. (The most popular time for Florida beach vacations. Imagine that.) It is during these months that these sea creatures come into the warmer shallow Florida Gulf Coast waters to mate.

Stingray-kit

They also are lazy and bury themselves in the bottom sand to stay away from being eaten by sharks or other larger rays. Activity and energy frighten these shy sea creatures. They can’t see well and rely on electro-sensors/vibrations to let them know they are in danger. So remember to do the “shuffle” when entering the water or take along an OCS Stingray 1st aid kit if you don’t…

David McRee..Beach Survival Guide..www.blogthebeach.com

Ocean Care Solutions Lionfish Sting 1st Aid Kit provides safe and effective sting relief

Pterois volitans and P. miles
Native range: Indo-Pacific and Red Sea
Invasive range: East coast of the United States and Caribbean sea

Some say that the invasion started in Miami, when Hurricane Andrew smashed an aquarium tank in 1992. But you can’t blame the weather: records of wild lionfish in Florida date back at least to 1985. This popular aquarium fish may have been released by fish enthusiasts tired of having a relentless predator in the living rooms, silently dispatching their other fish. And now that exotic predator is spreading north to New England, south to Panama and throughout the Caribbean, feasting on juvenile snapper and grouper along with algae-eating parrotfish as they go–-species which help keep reefs healthy. The lionfish is the first marine fish invasion in the western Atlantic.

Lionfish Range in the US.

Marine biologists are shocked at the speed of their spread in just a decade and at their population densities. Few fish species have established in the wild, let alone so successfully. Suddenly, they’re an abundant reef fish from the Bahamas to Rhode Island. Overfishing of predators like the grouper may be part of the story. Reef destruction and trophic cascade are possible outcomes. The only range limits appear to be colder and fresher waters.

A female lionfish produces two million eggs a year, so not only does it seem unlikely the species can be successfully eradicated, even slowing the growth rate is a challenge. Because lionfish eat just about anything that fits in their mouth while larger native fish don’t seem to recognize lionfish as prey, some experts say humans are the only predators left to call upon.

Common lionfish (Pterois miles)

As of 2010, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has given out licenses to divers to kill the species inside the property. Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) hosts a series of “Lionfish derbies” offering prize money  largest, smallest, and highest number caught; and publishes the Lionfish Cookbook, aimed at introducing chefs to what NOAA calls a “delicious, delicately flavored fish” similar in taste to snapper and texture to grouper. Lionfish have venomous fin spines––an uncommon feature on East coast species–-making them top predators and a danger to fishermen and divers. (And more expensive than many other fish on the menu, someone has to remove those venomous spines.)

The Lionfish 1st aid kit comes with everything you need to effectively treat your marine sting.

Lionfish Kit

Information provided by eattheinvaders.org

Dive Flag App Travels, Shop & Product Reviews

Product Review – Jellyfish Sting Relief Solution

About Ocean Care Solutions

Ocean Care Solutions’ (OCS) first aid products were developed by Kevin, a certified scuba diver. Kevin noticed that there was no convenient, proven medically effective, first aid products for stings from the Lionfish, the Man of War, the Sea Urchin, the Stingray, Fire Coral and Jellyfish. For two years Kevin consulted with international marine science and emergency medical communities to develop what they refer to as ‘the definitive Gold Standard’ for sea sting injuries. All OCS’s products have been developed without the reliance of myths, home remedies or guesswork.
Ron at OCS got in contact with Dive Flag App in a hope to have their product reviewed and publicized to Scuba Divers around the world. After initial discussions OCS sent us, here at Dive Flag App, a package containing a few hundred samples to test and distribute to other Dive Flag App members.  Today we had the opportunity to test their most ‘popular’ product the Jellyfish Sting Relief Solution (JSR Solution). This was a timely arrangement as Australia is currently experiencing an outbreak of jellyfish including the Blue Blubber Jellyfish (common name).

Product Description – Jellyfish Sting Relief Solution

OCS’s JSR Solution was developed to neutralize the stinging cells of jellyfish. The solution suspends any remaining pain causing nematocysts (stinging cells) from firing.  The directions of use are as follows:
  1.  Rinse the injury with salt water only,
  2.  Shake the spray and simultaneously press down on the top to pump the solution,
  3.  Apply the safe JSR Solution for 3-5 minutes, and then
  4.  Simply scrape away the pain.  Re-apply if necessary.
The application of the JSR solution is to ‘de-activate’ the jellyfish stinging cells. For the best results it is recommended that you apply the JSR Solution as soon as possible after having been stung. Delay in the use of this product limits effectiveness.
The JSR Solution comes in a small and convenient spray bottle made with medically recommended 5% acetic acid for the best results.

Product Trial

Dive Flag App were naturally skeptical about the effectiveness of OCS’s JSR Solution and so we decided to test the product out. Before reading further it is important to note that Dive Flag App did so under the supervision of trained emergency personnel and in no way is Dive Flag App suggesting that other members perform the following test.
Frank Vorster located two Blue Blubber Jellyfish in the Gold Coast Seaway, Queensland, Australia. He proceeded to sting himself in two ‘similar’ locations by lightly pressing up against the tentacles of the two jellyfish as they floated by. To one location he applied the JSR Solution and to the other he applied nothing. Eager to test the product out – others part-took in the experiment too.

Observations

  1. Within one minute, the stinging sensation on the hand with the JSR Solution started to subside whilst the second location’s continued to intensify as more stinging cells activated.
  2. After five minutes the stinging sensation on the location with the JSR Solution had all but faded completely, whilst the stinging sensation of the second location continued.
  3. Frank wiped the location with the JSR Solution as directed. The location where he had applied the JSR Solution appeared unaffected. Whilst having  wiped off the second location in a similar fashion had only activated the remaining stinging cells, effectively reactivating the sting.
  4. For a further 25 minutes Frank felt the stinging sensation on the second location whilst the location where the JSR Solution was applied felt “like it was never stung”.

Product Review

The JSR Solution performed as OCS had claimed. The product was easy to apply and immediately effective. The quality is guaranteed by OCS’s Californian manufacturing facility. A single 1oz bottle can be used to relieve 4 stings and the 4oz bottle can relieve up to 12 stings. With a shelf life of over 2 years the product can be stored without concern.
  • Price: 5/5
  • Effectiveness: 5/5
  • Quality: 5/5
  • Product Recommendation: Don’t get stung without it! Don’t go diving without it!
Dive Flag App highly recommend that all beach going, water sport activists and especially scuba divers keep a bottle of the solution in their bag. The product is incredible effective and useful.

Where to Buy the Product

Dive Flag App is so impressed with the effectiveness of the solution, we have worked out an arrangement with Ocean Care Solutions to become the exclusive distributor for these products. Dive Flag App is currently developing an on-line store where you can buy the product. If you would like a sample, to purchase some units for personal use or become a retailer for these products, simply email us for more information: info@diveflagapp.com .

Blessed Diving,

Dive Flag App
www.diveflagapp.com
info@diveflagapp.com
www.facebook.com/diveflagapp

Posted by at 

 

Lionfish Distribution as of 2012 as reported by the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) with a great deal of data provided by NOAA and REEF.