Image by Alexander Vasenin.

The lionfish is native to the tropical indo-pacific region of the world, but various species can be found worldwide.

The common lionfish generally reaches a size of 30-35cm. The venom of the lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins, is purely defensive. It relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture prey – mainly fish and shrimp.

A sting from a lionfish is extremely painful to humans, can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal. A common cure is soaking the afflicted area in hot water as very few hospitals carry specific treatments. However, immediate emergency medical treatment is still advised as some people may be more susceptible to the venom than others.

Lionfish are voracious predators. When hunting they corner prey using their large fins and then use their quick reflexes to swallow the prey whole.