Jason Jones of Biloxi, Mississippi set out fishing 50-miles of Dauphin Island last Saturday to catch tuna, wahoo, and amberjack, instead he reeled up a potential IGFA World Record Lionfish. Though not massive in size, the lionfish is renowned for possessing potentially fatal venom that is secreted via extremely ornate tentacles and venomous spines.
The current all-tackle IGFA World Record for Lionfish stands at 0.74 kg (1 lb 10 oz), and was caught by Capt. Mike Murias off Miami, Florida on September 7, 2013.
From The Sun Herald:
A Saturday morning trip for amberjack, wahoo and tuna, has given Jason Jones of Biloxi a shot at the world record books. Jones’ 1-pound, 11.2-ounce lionfish, caught last Saturday 55 miles south of Dauphin Island, slightly eclipsed the old world record of 1 pound, 10 ounces, which was caught in 2013 off the coast of Port Canaveral, Fla.
“It was a normal trip my friends and I try to make about twice a month. We were fishing at the popular MP-265 rig,” Jones said. “I didn’t have any idea it may be a record, but a buddy on the trip was a professional spear fisherman and he knew right away it had to be a record.”
Alex Fogg, a Gulf Coast Research Lab employee, has verified the weight and length of the fish.
“Jason is in the process of completing world record paperwork,” Fogg said. “The record broken was for hook and line fishing only.”
The state record is pending approval by the DMR and will be decided at a Feb. 24 meeting.
The Lionfish species is native to Indo-Pacific waters, but due to its extreme popularity as an aquarium fish it has been introduced to Atlantic and Caribbean waters, and in recent years it has flourished as an invasive species. It’s taken to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean in such thick numbers that divers and fishermen alike have been known to find coral reefs completely swarmed by these invasive fish.
One factor that has led to Lionfish flourishing in Caribbean water and the Gulf of Mexico is that they have no natural predators due to their venomous spikes and tentacles. However, in recent years in order to curb the ballooning population marine biologists have been trying to introduce the taste of Lionfish to various shark species as away to force a link in the food chain.
Though this practice of hand-feeding Lionfish to sharks is quite controversial among marine biologists, as many claim that by doing so the sharks will simply begin to associate the divers with food, and not associate the Lionfish AS food.
Reef sharks are thought to be one of a few animals that can choke down a lionfish. To avoid the toxic spikes on its back and tail fin, said Antonio Busiello, they eat the fish starting at its mouth.
Busiello, a photography documentarian in Florence, said he watched that happen while diving in Honduras with park officials who speared lionfish and fed them to reef sharks in 2010. His Web site is full of pictures depicting the action.
But marine ecologist Serena Hackerott and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said feeding lionfish to sharks is crazy. Sharks “are going to associate divers with food,” she said.
In a test of 71 sites — in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Cuba and the Bahamas — UNC researchers found nothing to show that lionfish are shark bait, according to a paper published last year in the journal PLOS One.
And to truly get a scale of just how much the invasive Lionfish species has flourished in recent years, check out this video filmed in the waters off of Florida…Where according to the laws of nature, there should exist ZERO Lionfish:
And as for why the current first AND all-tackle IGFA world record for Red Lionfish stands at only 1 lb 10 oz? Well, it’s traditionally been a fish only targeted by spear-fishermen, as Lionfish can be extremely difficult to filet when trying to procure the fish’s meat. HOWEVER, if you do get the chance to eat Lionfish you should fry it up, because they make for some excellent fish tacos!
But do NOT attempt to filet a Lionfish without watching this instructional video on how to do so: