Cleaning lionfish

Lionfish sting first aid and treatment

Have you ever wondered how you can remove all the 18 venomous spines from a lionfish? Well I’ve produced a short video showing me removing the spines from three lionfish. For cleaning lionfish you will need a good pair of sharp tin snips and some puncture proof gloves – see my other post Puncture proof gloves for lionfish hunting.

It is always a good idea to wear a pair of puncture proof gloves while handling lionfish because it is very easy to get stung. I have been stung by lionfish four times and twice was when I was cutting off the spines before I took them to a local restaurant. I didn’t actually get stung by any of the 18 venomous spines on the two lionfish. I actually got stung by additional spines that had stuck into the fish when they were in my lionfish container. This probably happened back on my dive boat when I dumped the lionfish from my container into my cooler box. The force of the fish landing on top of each other probably caused a spine or two from another fish to break off into the lionfish I was handling.

Remember the venom in a lionfish is still active in the spines AFTER the lionfish has died. Over time, approximately 24hrs, the power of the venom reduces to zero.

Want to see how to de-spine a lionfish? Well have a look at my video below.


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About Nigel Coles

Hi my name is Nigel Coles. I used to live in Bristol, England but after a change in direction we moved overseas to work in the scuba diving industry. After a time in Thailand, for the last 8 years I have been living with my wife Deby, in the East End of Grand Cayman, The Cayman Islands. I’m a dive instructor, working for Tortuga Divers, part of the Red Sail group. I spend my day on dive boats, training students and taking our guests on dive trips. It’s a hard life but someone has to do it

2 Responses to Cleaning lionfish

  1. Brian says:

    If I may ask, how did you determine that it takes 24 hours for the venom to denature in a deceased lionfish? I assume nobody volunteered to get stabbed at hourly intervals until the venom wasn’t effective, but I am curious as to whether there is any evidence behind that number. Thanks a ton for your time and help!

    • Hi there Brian. Thanks for the question. The 24 hour rule came from our Cayman Islands Department Of Environment. They used to and still do a presentation to individuals interested in catching lionfish. It came up in the presentation I attended, which was in 2010. However, I cannot remember if it was actually part of the presentation or part of the question and answer session. I hope this helps. I will try and find somewhere it is written down and send the link to you. Nigel