Stung by a Lionfish While Hunting

“Hey, you got a Lionfish. Aren’t those poisonous?” Ian asked me when I reached the surface. “Yes…” I replied, “and I just got stung by it.” This week we went spearfishing in Tulum and hunting Lionfish with Ian and friends and family; after 10 minutes in the water I got stung. Stung by a Lionfish.

I got bitten by Barracuda (painful, but doable and great story at a party). I can’t count the number of Triggerfish that left a lifetime memory on my skin (part of being a spear fisherman). A Nurseshark sucked my leg when we choose the same menu (wish I had that on GoPro). And then now finally, after removing hundreds of Lionfish from the Caribbean without a problem, an experience that beats all the injuries mentioned above.

Beautiful, almost untouched, reef in Tulum. You could spend all day long here. I dove down about 35 ft and shot a pretty big and fat Lionfish, good for a taco or 5. I went up to the surface and got distracted by watching one of our guests diving down; he impressed me for a first time spearo. While I was watching him, the Lionfish was on my spear, alive and not liking its position. Before I knew, it stung me in my middle finger. It was my own fault. “Yes, Ian the are poisonous, but I won’t die!”.

This is a very nice and super interesting article about the Lionfish sting and how the venom works. The drawing explains a lot:

It was a little sting, I could see the little point on my middle finger. Not very painful at all. I went back to the time that our guide Diego got stung by a Lionfish while spearfishing in Playa del Carmen and we all laughed at him while he was in pain. He ended up at a hospital where he got treatment. We really thought he was overreacting.

I continued spearfishing butr after 10 minutes I saw that the little point on my finger turned into a blue dot of about 1 cm. Strange, but so far so good. Keep on hunting. Five minutes later, a huge pain in my finger. I thought “ok, ok, ok, Diego, we’re sorry about what happened, haha.”. When it was time to get back on the boat for a little break my whole hand hurts like %&$”! Even the bones, on top of that, my middle finger got swollen like a german sausage. I knew hot water would have been great to have, but we did not have any (now we found this, reusable hand warmer, no kidding! . I did check if there was any Lionfish left in my finger as the pain got even worse. Negative.

Back in the water. Pain and more pain, I thought that can NOT be. Now my whole hand was swollen, at least triple the normal size and even part of my arm started to hurt. The pain became unbearable and I had to throw up in the ocean. Diego was with me immediately. Not to help me, but to film me. Sweet revenge.

I was not able to use my hand for anything. Felt like it was paralyzed. This is c r a z y.

While I am writing this, it’s been four days since the Lionfish stung my finger and my hand is still not “the old one”. Pain is gone and it’s swollen considerably less. I guess one day more…

What to do when you get stung by a Lionfish? This article “Lionfish First Aid and treatment” says it all,

  • Get back on the boat/land
  • Remove remaining spines
  • Clean and disinfect wound
  • Control bleeding
  • Apply hot water
  • Take pain medication
  • Seek medical treatment (do!!!)

I will keep spearfishing Lionfish and so should you. In case you get stung while hunting, you’ll be in good hands. We know how to handle it, from experience….




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