Man catches tiny but deadly six-inch lionfish in Dorset, the first in UK waters

Man catches tiny but deadly six-inch lionfish in Dorset, the first in UK waters

September 29, 2021

A DEADLY fish capable of paralysing and killing humans has been caught off Britain’s shores for the first time.

Arfon Summers, 39, hooked the six-inch lionfish — which has 13 spines packed with venom — at a tourist hot spot.


Its sting can cause paralysis and kill its target as well as inflict extreme pain and vomiting. The keen angler said: “My mind was blown, a lionfish is a new off shore personal best. It’s no doubt the ocean is getting warmer to house these. I didn’t let it go due to it being an invasive species.”

The carer was trying to catch a triggerfish, another recent arrival from warmer waters, at Chesil Beach, Dorset, on Thursday, when he landed the exotic catch.

His dad Bill, 75, added: “I’m just glad the thing didn’t sting him. It must make him a British record holder if no one else has caught one.”

Lionfish are local to the South Pacific and Indian Ocean but have spread to the Mediterranean where they are wiping out native species. Marine biologists fear that Arfon, of Hengoed, Caerphilly, caught one which may have travelled to Britain from as far as Italy.

They said is also possible the fish — sold for upwards of £200 in ­Britain — may have been kept in an aquarium and dumped in the sea.

Leading lionfish expert Jason Hall-Spencer, of Plymouth University, said: “These predators can give a nasty sting and can kill. It’s easy to get stung if you’re swimming or snorkelling.

A sting will easily put you in hospital and could kill.

“If approached they stick out their spines like a porcupine and if they are in a group they will gang up together.

"The water is warm enough, so a lionfish could have swum over here from the western Mediterranean. If it has, it means there will likely be more and it could have huge consequences for our native species.”

Lionfish are nocturnal ambush predators and lie motionless, hidden among weeds or rocks.

They grow up to 2ft and are edible, tasting similar to lobster.

Nevin Hunter, marine coordinator at the Angling Trust, told The Sun: “A sting will easily put you in hospital and could kill. We have urged all fishermen to be vigilant.”

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