Are Lionfish Safe to Eat? How You Can Help Advance Ocean Conservation

Are lionfish safe to eat? If they are, why should we have lionfish for lunch?

Deadly. Beautiful. Devastating. While lionfish may be stunning to look at, this invasive species has been wreaking havoc among marine ecosystems such as coral reefs along Florida coasts since the 1990s. In Florida waters, lionfish have no predators and have been eating many native species of fish, causing great ecological damage, with some areas showing an 85-90% decrease in their native fish.

 

The good news is you can help by having a snack! You probably won't see them on the menu at many seafood restaurants, so you may be wondering "Are lionfish safe to eat?" The answer is yes! 

Lionfish spines are venomous, not poisonous. Meaning, once the spines are removed, the rest of the fish is completely edible – and quite delicious. Not only does eating lionfish help remove these pesky fish from Florida’s waters, but it also offers a sustainable fishing alternative.

 

By including lionfish in your diet, you’re promoting sustainable fishing which is a great way to help advance ocean conservation. Growing demand for seafood has led to fishing practices that are depleting populations of fish and other aquatic creatures. Together, we can make a difference by purchasing seafood from responsible, sustainable fisheries and by creating demand for lionfish by purchasing it directly from reputable sources.

 

This information was sourced from National Geographic and NOAA Fisheries

How to be a Conservation Hero! 

Did you know oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface and contain 97 percent of the Earth's water? Although many of us, especially in Florida, think of the oceans as a place to relax and soak up the sun – they are also vital to life on Earth and home to an estimated one million species. It is our duty to help conserve and protect our oceans, and the marine life that inhabit them.

 

There are many ways you can help protect the oceans and marine life. Check out these six ways you can practice ocean-friendly habits and help save our oceans. 

Florida Sea Grant is Making Waves with New Education Program

Florida Sea Grant Presents: Bite-Sized Science

Florida Sea Grant is a university-based program from the University of Florida with a mission to support integrated research, education, and extension to conserve coastal resources and enhance economic opportunities for the people of Florida. Florida Sea Grant taps into the research expertise of over 800 coastal and ocean scientists across Florida’s 16 major universities and research laboratories. Through their efforts, they support ocean education for students ranging from K-12 to graduate school. OSC's committed effort to improving students' and visitors' understanding of sustainability and conservation aligns with the Florida Sea Grant’s numerous activities that educate people on the importance of preservation and sustainability of Florida’s economically and environmentally vital coastal and marine resources.

 

Florida Sea Grant staff work closely with residents in a variety of educational and outreach programs across the state and in response to social distancing measures scientists and researchers are sharing their research and programming virtually with the public. We wanted to share resources and activities from our friends at Florida Sea Grant about environmental education! Visit their website to learn more!

 

What is Bite-Sized Science?

The Bite-Sized Science webinars are presented by UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant agents. During the webinars, viewers have the opportunity to listen and engage with researchers and scientists while learning about topics ranging from Florida marine life and invasive species like Lion Fish to learning the science behind artificial reefs and bioplastics.

 

Starting in June, Florida Sea Grant webinar topics will focus on harmful algal blooms and cover a range of marine-oriented themes. Webinars are 30 minutes long and include a Q&A with the presenter. Presentations will be recorded and participants will be sent a link to playback the recordings. While the webinars are for a general adult audience, upper-middle and high school students may benefit from supplementing their curriculum and we would encourage families with children to listen in and watch together.

 

Things You Can Make At Home

  • Edible Estuary 
    • Discover how biotic and abiotic components influence our ecosystems
  • Estuary Food Web 
    • This activity shows different animals and plants that live in estuaries and shows the complexity of a food web.
  • Beach Coloring Book
    • Great for kids to color, cut out and assemble. Best for K-2nd
 

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In these ever-changing times, it is our pleasure to adapt quality Orlando Science Center experiences to engage with everyone while they are safe at home. Please consider supporting our operating fund to ensure we can continue developing resources today and well into the future. Thank you for your generosity and support!

Six Ways to Practice Ocean Conservation

Celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8!

Did you know oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface and contain 97 percent of the Earth's water? Although many of us, especially in Florida, think of the oceans as a place to relax and soak up the sun – they are also vital to life on Earth and home to an estimated one million species. It is our duty to help conserve and protect our oceans, and the marine life that inhabit them.

In celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8, we've compiled the top six ways you can practice ocean-friendly habits and help protect our oceans. Be sure to dive into Orlando Science Center on June 8 for our World Oceans Day celebration to learn more about ocean conservation, dissect a Lionfish, create recycled tote bags and more!

Here are Six Ways You Can Practice Ocean Conservation

  1. Use Less Plastic – Plastics that end up in the oceans, pollute and kill tens of thousands of marine animals every year. While single-use plastics create unnecessary waste, sustainable alternatives do exist. Instead of using plastic bags at the grocery store, bring a few tote bags to haul your goods. Using reusable water bottles, straws, and utensils are also great ways to reduce your plastic consumption.
  2. Beach Cleanup – Help keep our oceans clean by volunteering for a beach cleanup. Picking up litter is an effective way to reduce pollution, beautify your area and make new friends along the way!
  3. Enjoy the Water Responsibly – While boating, kayaking, and other recreational activities are a ton of fun, it’s essential to remember that you are in another creature’s habitat. To protect marine life, be sure to avoid throwing anything overboard.
  4. Volunteer Your Time– Consider volunteering your time to an organization or charity that is working to protect our oceans and marine wildlife. Join a local group to participate in projects and fundraisers that advance conservation efforts.
  5. Think Before You Flush – Medicines and other materials often flushed down the toilet have a damaging effect on water quality and marine life. Not only do these substances harm our oceans, but they also pollute local waterways and soil. Examples of harmful products include floss, cat litter, insecticides and more.
  6. Take Note of Your Carbon Footprint –  Carbon dioxide can cause acidification of the water, which impacts the health of marine life. Learn more about how you can tweak your energy habits for a more sustainable lifestyle. Driving less and using fewer single-use goods are great ways to start.
This information was sourced from National Geographic and The Oceanic Institute.