[Coral-List] mutton snapper eats lionfish in Roatan

Douglas Fenner douglasfenner at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 27 01:40:52 EST 2011

Likely lionfish are not toxic to predators that eat them.  Heat works as a 
treatment for lionfish stings and some other kinds of stings.  It works by 
denaturing the protein in the venom (at a slightly lower temperature at which 
human tissue denatures or else we would be badly burned).  Proteins are digested 
easily.  Many venoms are proteins, likely for that reason (for instance cone 
shell venom, but some aren't like ciguotoxin or tetrodotoxin- such as in 
pufferfish).  A rattlesnake injects venom into its prey (such as a field mouse) 
then waits for it to die, and then eats it.  The venom in the mouse would work 
on the snake, if it were in the snake tissue, but in the digestive system it is 
broken down by enzymes into harmless amino acids.  Same thing for cone shell.  
Clever, eh?  The wonders of evolution.  (the cone shell venom story has a lot 
more fascinating details in it.)   Doug

 Douglas Fenner, Ph.D.
Coral Reef Monitoring Ecologist
Dept Marine & Wildlife Resources
American Samoa

Mailing address:
PO Box 3730
Pago Pago, AS 96799

work phone 684  633 4456

Figures on Global Climate Show 2010 Tied 2005 as the Hottest Year on Record

"New government figures for the global climate show that 2010 was the wettest 
year in the historical record, and it tied 2005 as the hottest year since 
record-keeping began in 1880.  It was the 34th year running that global 
temperatures have been above the 20th-century average; the last below-average 
year was 1976. The new figures show that 9 of the 10 warmest years on record 
have occurred since the beginning of 2001." 


From: Rom Lipcius <rom at vims.edu>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Sat, January 22, 2011 6:00:31 AM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] mutton snapper eats lionfish in Roatan

Does anyone know if eating whole lionfish with the poison glands intact, as the 
snapper did in the video, is eventually toxic to the predator? 


Romuald N. Lipcius
Professor of Marine Science
Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William & Mary
1208 Greate Road, Gloucester Point, VA 23062
804-684-7330 (office), rom at vims.edu

On Jan 21, 2011, at 2:54 PM, Melanie McField wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
> Last week I had an amazing dive in Roatan during which a nassau grouper and
> mutton snapper closely followed our fearless lionfish hunter - and the
> mutton snapper actually ended up eating the lionfish (after it was speared
> and offered).  I think this record will increase the number of species that
> are confirmed to consume it.  The video is on Youtube and our new facebook
> site and will soon be on our website (www.healthyreefs.org).  Feel free to
> use the video as needed. The summary information is detailed below the
> links.
> See the video at:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3oGVWvt7E0
> We also have it on on facebook and are starting a new suite of activities on
> facebook... so 'friend' us to keep informed about marine conservation
> throughout the MAR.
> This is the link
> Mutton Snapper recorded eating a lionfish
> January 12, 2011 West End Wall, Roatan, Honduras
> Location:  16.26905 N   86.60288 W    Depth: 80 ft
> In the linked video you can see licensed lionfish hunter and Healthy Reefs
> Coordinator in Honduras, Ian Drysdale, feed  a  speared (and dead) lionfish
> to a mutton snapper, as an interested nassau grouper looks on.  The video
> was taken by Melanie McField, Director of the Healthy Reefs Initiate. Still
> photos were taken by Marisol Rueda, Healthy Reefs Coordinator in Mexico.   The
> incident occurred about 15 minutes into the dive. The Nassau grouper  began
> following Ian about 5-10 minutes into the dive and the mutton snapper joined
> along shortly after. Both fish seemed particularly interested in following
> Ian and watching the spear keenly.  Spearfishing is banned in HN and the
> fish show no fear of the spear or the divers in general.  In response to the
> lionfish problem authorities are allowing managers like the Roatan Marine
> Park to license certain trained individuals to use special lionfish spears
> to remove lionfish from the reef inside and outside the Roatan marine park.
> Both fish were approximately 30-40cm length. Dive guides from Roatan also
> report that the following species have been seen consuming speared lionfish:
> groupers (several species), snappers (including mutton and yellowtail)
> spotted and green morays, and grey reef sharks.  Some plan to attempt to
> train the fish to consume live lionfish, as has been reported from Cayman.
> -- 
> Melanie McField, PhD
> Director, Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative, Smithsonian
> Institution
> 1755 Coney Dr, Belize City, Belize, Central America
> tel 501-223-4898   cell 501-610-4899
> email: mcfield at healthyreefs.org  www.healthyreefs.org
> Join the International Society for Reef Studies
> www.fit.edu/isrs/
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