Turkeyfish: It’s What’s for Dinner


Photo courtesy: NOAA

The best way to ensure over harvesting of an animal is to turn it into a popular food. That’s why I’d like to make turkeyfish the next new thing in Thanksgiving dinners. Turkeyfish are more commonly known as lionfish, but they’re sometimes called zebrafish or poison scorpionfish.

Their long spinney fins can look like a lion’s mane or a turkey’s tail feathers depending on how creative you’re feeling. Its stripes give it the Zebra look, and the toxin in those spines are responsible for the association with scorpions.

Whatever you choose to call it, the turkeyfish doesn’t belong in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Caribbean. But it’s in all of those places, and it’s an invader that belongs in the Indo-Pacific. As an aggressive predator, it eats up small fish, crustaceans, and the larvae of big fish. Scientists believe it can cause trouble for the native species living in coral reef habitats because it’s so voracious and because it has no natural predators. Once established, invaders like the turkeyfish/lionfish can be nearly impossible to get rid of.

I’ve posted before about the benefits of eating invasive species, and the turkeyfish is a great one to put on the menu. I wouldn’t recommend doing it yourself, of course; those poisonous spines are nasty! But once the spines are gone, they can be filleted cooked up like any other fish. Maybe your local seafood market can get some from their seafood suppliers. It’s worth asking!

Learn more about the Turkeyfish

Learn more about making responsible seafood choices.