Poisonous, spiky, bug-eyed and edible: Lionfish are a prolific invasive species off the coast of Florida. Their voracious appetites are destroying native reef fish populations, leaving decimated reefs in their wake. 

Christian Ledwith of Chef Michael’s holds up a lionfish before the fish is filleted. He regularly sees the invasive species while diving off the Florida Keys, something he never saw as a kid.

Chefs and concerned eaters are attempting to eat their way through this problem. You can find items like lionfish sushi, poached and broiled lionfish, and lionfish dumplings on menus throughout South Florida. 

A lionfish pulled from one of Gary Nichols’ lobster traps.

Reporter Wilson Sayre takes us to the Florida Keys to catch a few lionfish and see how much of a bite diners are taking out of the problem.

Additional Resources

Dr. Dan Simberloff co-wrote an essay with some concerns about why eating our way out of the problem might be an issue.

Like to fish? Here’s information about Florida’s Lionfish Derby 

Gravy has shared articles about solutions to invasive species in the past. Read this article by Abigail Greenbaum, first published in Gravy, issue #48.


We thank Danyell Irby for editing and Nan Klingener for her assistance with this story.

All photos by Wilson Sayre.

Music is by Blue Dot Sessions and Podington Bear