Bonaire National Marine Park - LIONFISH

The Indo Pacific Lionfish Pterois volitans/miles is a predatory, venomous fish which has been introduced as an invasive species in the Atlantic Basin. The exotic looking fish is known for its reddish brown and white banding patters that run vertically along its body and the 13 venomous spines that run along the length of the fish. This invasive carnivore can significantly reduce biodiversity of a local habitat and can drive important fish species to extinction, negatively affecting coral reef ecosystems. The fish also poses a risk to the health of the Bonaire National Marine Park users as the species possesses venomous dorsal, anal, and pelvic spines that can inflict a painful sting that may result in serious health complications. 

The first lionfish was recorded off of the coast of West Palm Beach in 1992 and was possibly released through the aquarium trade (USGS 2002). Since then the species has continuously migrated north reaching as far north as Long Island, New York and as far east as Bermuda (USGS 2002). Lionfish have also been reported in the Bahamas and south along the Caribbean coasts of Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Venezuela, and Colombia (USGS 2002). See for progression map.

The Bonaire National Marine Park received the first positive report on October 26, 2009 and immediately activated a previously prepared comunication and action plan to remove as many lionfish as possible. The critical point of this removal action is the accurate reporting to the Park Management in order to activate the “removal team.” Due to its territorial behavior, relocation of a lionfish after accurate reporting is highly probable.

Most important, be extremely careful. Most of the spines are venomous and can cause extreme pain! If stung during diving, abort the dive immediately. Immerse wound in hot water and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

If you are a Bonaire resident you may apply for a Lion Fish hunting permit, including an ELF (elimination device lion fish) through STINAPA. You need to have completed the lion fish hunting course with a local dive shop before you are eligible for this permit.


Please download the permit application

May 3th, 2010: Lionfish update on Stinapa website (English/Dutch/Papiamento)