Article by: Kenneth Kwang | Photos by: Boon Ping, aquarists at S.E.A. Aquarium
Is it a lion? Or is it a fish? Many of us know that the half-lion-half-fish Merlion is widely regarded as a Singapore icon. The lion head depicts Singapore’s original name Singapura (‘lion city’ in Malay) while the fish body symbolises Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village.
But do you know that there is a fish in the ocean called the Lionfish? Also called Pterois , these venomous fish are sometimes seen on the southern shores of Singapore. In May 2015, Volitans Lionfish were first spotted in Singapore waters.
There are currently 12 recognized species of Lionfish
The smallest species can reach about 2 inches long while the largest species can reach up to about 16 inches in length.
They are pretty yet deadly
Lionfish are famous for their beautifully coloured bodies and feathery pectoral fins, which make them look really stunning. However, they have between thirteen and eighteen venomous spines along their dorsal fin.
What happens when you are stung by a lionfish?
You will usually experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, heavy breathing, and pain but fatalities are very rare.
They are poisonous but edible?
Yes, they can be consumed as they are venomous, not poisonous. This means the venom on their fins has to be injected into the bloodstream, and not ingested, to cause grief to the victim. In regions like the Caribbean islands, people hunt Lionfish for food as these fish are destroying the reef ecosystem.
They prefer to live alone but reproduce extremely fast
Lionfish are solitary creatures that occupy and defend their territories. Yet they have an extremely high rate of reproduction where a female can release up to 30000 eggs every 7 day.
S.E.A. Aquarium is home to some beautiful Lionfish. Be sure to take some #instaworthy pictures of them in their habitat, located near the touchpool.