Beware the beautiful lionfish
Posted by Marion Leigh on April 14, 2016 . 0 Comments
As a writer, I am constantly filing away snippets of information to use in my novels, and as a boater, I read lots of boating magazines. So when I came across an article on the Indo-Pacific lionfish in BoatU.S. Magazine, I tore it out for future reference. Until then, I had never heard of this venomous and potentially deadly fish that has spread into the Caribbean and U.S. Atlantic coast waters.
In the Bahamian segment of Dead Man’s Legacy, Petra Minx spends a day aboard Betty Graceby’s classic motor yacht getting to know the legendary diva and her dysfunctional family. I needed something to add drama to the end of that scene and remembered the article, so I pulled it out of my bulky folder and wrote the lionfish into the story:
‘They have red and white stripes like some exotic zebra, and venomous spines,’ says Martin Johnson, Petra’s journalist friend.
A red herring à la Agatha Christie? Perhaps, but there’s more to my tale.
Recently, at my favourite local restaurant Spritz, the waiter in his lilting Caribbean accent offered me the catch of the day: “line fish” in a lemon butter sauce. I ate it with relish. Then the owner came to ask me how I had enjoyed the lionfish. My tongue began to tingle …
Since then, I’ve learned that the lionfish is venomous, not poisonous. Venom has to be injected into the blood stream to cause harm, whereas poison has to be ingested. So the lionfish is safe to eat … unless it contains ciguatoxin as certain types of reef fish can!
Would I have eaten it if I’d known it was lionfish? I don’t think so. The brain’s power of suggestion is too strong.