Article By: Jean-Marc Claes
Date: August 25th 2022
Remembering the last months of our world-scuba-trip and where our SY Blowing Bubbles took us:
France-Spain-Lanzarote-Gran Canaria-Tenerife-La Palma-Cabo Verde Sal-Cabo Verde Mindelo-crossing the Atlantic Ocean-Guadelope-Dominica-Martinique-St Lucia-St Vincent-Grenadines-Union Island-Bonaire and now Curacao.
And let’s not forget, scuba diving in all these countries, meeting scuba businesses, talking to professionals, learning from them and listening to their stories.
The list is becoming long, just travelling over one year.
It makes us realise that our world trip is happening, that our planning (the planning started five years ago) really worked out and that we are well achieving our goals.
As we wrote earlier about the lionfish invasion in the Caribbean, we have also set our goals to educate people about this while we travel. What better way to use nice-tasting fish and offer it to other sailors to have a go at it?
So, we regularly hunt lionfish, clean it and prepare it into fillets.
During our visit to Curacao, we were honoured to welcome the Norwegian Adventure Cook, Kit Monsen. He is a scuba diver and came down to visit Curacao to get inspiration for his cooking show (see reference at the end of the article).
We all need to be inspired; luckily, our world-scuba-trip takes care of us and gives us plenty of inspiration and adventures to share with you.
We introduced Kit into the world of lionfish, the reasons behind the problems, the way to hunt them (first you need to ‘find’ them on your dives), next bringing them safely to the surface, clean them (you might still need to kill them first). Next is the fillet part, making lionfish into a liondish (Kit’s part of the job) and finally, the part that everyone wants to join: EATING!Curacao has a large lionfish population, so it is no problem to go out and hunt them. We use Hawaiian Sling (so not spearguns) or plain spears with a three-tipped point so the lionfish can not go ‘up’ the spear and sting your hand.
After introducing Kit to the hunting techniques, we went on our first hunting dive in a place called Klein Curacao, a small uninhabited island in front of the Curacao coast, about 15 nautical miles from Curacao.
About one minute into the dive, at a depth of 15mtr, adrenaline shoots up, and a first larger lionfish is spotted.
As I wanted to show the hunting technique to Kit, I was using a plain spear and this lionfish being instead a bigger example of the species, I got close and put my hand on the back-end of the spear to really put enough force on it to catch and deep enough ‘stick’ the spear in the lionfish.
The big mistake I made was that the lionfish was ‘caught’ with enough (read: way too much!), and just behind the lionfish was a coral rock that was hit with enough power, so the backside of the spear (just a blunt metal tube) penetrated my hand. I promise you, NOT a nice feeling at all. I pulled the back end of the spear out of my hand, and guess what? Now they could see that nice different colour of blood below the surface, and it didn’t look red at all!
This is real-time ‘D.A.N’ Hazardous Marine Life Injuries below the surface and soon followed with some D.A.N. First Aid at the surface, taking care of the wound, disinfecting it and some bandaging. Studidity on my side, being too excited and making a small mistake with some severe consequences.
I hunted enough lionfish in my life; I should have known better!
To lessen the grief and pain, the lionfish was caught, and soon eight others were as well!
Cleaning the lionfish requires some skill and safety rules as the spines contain a severe poison, and even after they die, the poison remains dangerous.
Cleaning the lionfish involves the removal of the fins/spines first; cutting them off with a pair of good, strong scissors is the easiest way to get the job done. Holding the fish with two fingers behind the gills gives you the best position to start cutting! And then, disaster strikes…
As Kit is taking the next fish out of the box to start cleaning it, he does not notice that another fish in the box is still alive! It ‘jumped’ up and stung Kit three times in his hand…
What follows is agonising pain for many hours to come! Kit knows about pain and being stung; he is also a beekeeper; no bee keeps without getting stung once in a while. But a lionfish sting is about 100x worse, which was what happened!
Some more D.A.N. Hazardous Marine Life Injuries to be dealt with:
Immerging the hand in the hottest water, he could bare for the next 45 minutes was step one.
Next, watching for an allergic reaction (we had an EPI-Pen on standby) is step two. The hand turned purple within minutes, showing us the poison injected into the hand. The pain level was meanwhile up to 9.5/10 on Kit’s pain index, and his entire mind and body were fighting the pain. That pain would last for the next 8 hours on that level, not a pleasant sight/feeling ahead for the hours to come.
Some medication (aspirin) was also taken by Kit, but that is all you can do. Just ‘sit’ it out…
After about 30min in the hottest water he could bare, we saw that purple colour started to disappear from the hand, a sign that the hot water was reacting against the poison, breaking it down!
The ultimate revenge?
What could be the ultimate revenge after such a day of lionfish hunting, two injured people against eight caught lionfish? Considering the size of the day’s catch, we could go all the way to preparing lion-dishes!
Appetizer: Fresh Ceviche from lionfish.
Dinner: Barbecued lionfish
Dessert: who cares about dessert when you have had two lionfish dishes?
Even dealing with all the pain Kit had, some hours later into the day, the Adventure Cook had managed to prepare the ceviche and the fillets for the Barbecue.
The ultimate revenge was ‘at hand’…Together with the complete diveteam of SY Zelda and SY Blowing Bubbles, we enjoyed a memorable evening that day in Klein Curacao.
An evening that nobody would ever forget, not Kit or me, nor all the other divers and guests.
lionfish to liondish: it is never without danger!
And how do liondishes taste? Well, join us onboard SY Blowing Bubbles for your next dive adventure in the Caribbean, and you will be able to find out for yourself!
Check out the Adventure Cook on:
Want to learn more about Hazardous Marine Life Injuries or First Aid:
Better be prepared for it!
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