A lion in England? Well, not exactly, but this lionfish can be just as deadly as its on-land counterpart. An angler on the island recently reeled in the creature at a popular tourist destination. Now, experts are warning about the dangers of the invasive species.
Arfon Summers, 39, caught the lionfish on Thursday in Dorset, located in South West England, according to The Sun. The fish, named because of its colorful markings, has 13 toxin-filled spines across its body. That poison that can paralyze or even kill a person, the Natural History Museum in England said.
Luckily, Summers wasn’t hurt by the lionfish, which experts believe is the first one ever caught in British waters. If it is the first, it could be a bad omen. The invasive species has few predators and poses a serious threat to marine life. The fish showed up in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico years ago and is still a serious proble there.
“My mind was blown, a lionfish is a new offshore personal best,” Summer told The Sun. “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.”
Someone tweeted a photo of the catch.
Fish experts warn anyone in that area to be careful.
“A sting will easily put you in hospital and could kill,” Nevin Hunter, a fish expert, told The Sun. “We have urged all fishermen to be vigilant.”
A lionfish sting can cause extreme pain and nausea, convulsions, dizziness, fever, numbness, and death, the Tynemouth Aquarium reported. Though a lionfish attack on humans is rare.
“Because lionfish are predatory marine animals, there have been reports of aggression towards divers and fishermen,” the aquarium said. “Such behavior is, however, likely to be purely defensive, with the fish using their lethal spines to fend off those it deems a threat.”
How Did the Tropical Lionfish End Up in England?
Experts aren’t sure how the fish got there, but they have their suspicions.
A likely answer is it was a pet. You can buy a lionfish in England for about $270, the Sun said. Someone could have kept it in an aquarium and then dumped it in the ocean. Though, there is the possibility that it migrated there.
The lionfish is native to the south Pacific and the Indian oceans. But as water warm moves into British territory, the fish may have made the trip on its own.
“The water is warm enough, so a lionfish could have swum over here from the western Mediterranean,” lionfish expert Jason Hall-Spencer told The Mirror. “If it has, it means there will likely be more and it could have huge consequences for our native species.”
Experts want to know if there were other lionfish sightings in the country.
“If someone’s got the lionfish specimen in a freezer, we would love to see it,” said Oliver Crimmen, the Senior Curator of Fish at the British Natural History Museum. “The arrival of a species with such invasive potential as a lionfish, however, could represent a future threat to UK marine ecosystems.”