The lionfish is a venomous fish normally found throughout the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, whose name is derived from its colourful markings
A man has caught a deadly lionfish capable of paralysing and killing humans at a popular tourist hot spot in Dorset, marking the first time the species has been found in British waters.
Arfon Summers, 39, caught the six-inch lionfish — which has 13 spines packed with venom — at Chesil Beach, Dorset, on Thursday.
The keen angler was trying to catch a triggerfish, another recent arrival from warmer waters, when he landed the lionfish.
The lionfish is a venomous fish normally found throughout the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, whose name is derived from its markings of brown, red, or white stripes that cover its body.
Although a beautiful-looking creature with fan-like fins, the lionfish’s most memorable characteristic is its spine, which contains a venom that it uses as a protective mechanism.
In humans, its sting can cause intense pain and sweating, and in extreme cases, respiratory distress and paralysis.
The intensity and duration of these effects depend on an individual’s sensitivity to the toxin and how many spines have stabbed them.
Arfon, of Hengoed, Caerphilly, told the Sun: “My mind was blown, a lionfish is a new off shore personal best. It’s no doubt the ocean is getting warmer to house these. I didn’t let it go due to it being an invasive species.”
His dad, Bill, said: “I’m just glad the thing didn’t sting him. It must make him a British record holder if no one else has caught one.”
Marine biologists fear that the lionfish in question may have travelled to Britain from as far as Italy, but that it was also possible that it could have been kept in an aquarium and dumped in the sea.
Leading lionfish expert Jason Hall-Spencer, of Plymouth University, said: “The water is warm enough, so a lionfish could have swum over here from the western Mediterranean. If it has, it means there will likely be more and it could have huge consequences for our native species.”
People fishing in the area have been warned to stay vigilant in case they encounter other lionfish..
If stung, the only known remedy is to remove the spines and soak the wound in hot water, which helps break down the toxin, according to Medscape.