Robot Enlisted To Tame Lionfish

With all the environmental activism going on globally, one might wonder why we would need a special robot to go out and kill fish. The answer may sound too simple, but simply put, the answer is ecological imbalance.

According to a Wikipedia post, the lionfish, a.k.a., Pterois, is a venomous fish lately found in too-much abundance in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas. They are popular aquarium fish, however they are wreaking havoc on other marine life, coral reefs, and humans.


Lionfish have no significant predators and they aggressively prey on small fish and invertebrates. They inhabit inshore areas and harbors and are territorial towards, aggressively attacking other reef fish.  And they are equally unfriendly towards divers and swimmers.

Mentioned above, lionfish are poisonous. Their venomous fin rays deliver a potent venom than can cause pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, breathing difficulties, convulsions, dizziness, headache, numbness, paresthesia (pins and needles), heartburn, diarrhea, and sweating in humans. Unfortunately, death is not uncommon in young children, the elderly, and individuals allergic to the venom.

So, there’s a lot of these fairly dangerous fish in overabundance out there in the Atlantic ocean with few, if any, predators, causing havoc. What can be done about it?

Believe it or not, there is one initiative, the "Lionfish as Food" campaign that encourages the catching and consumption of these feline fish. Like blowfish, the lionfish is supposedly safe to eat if filleted properly. In other words, eat at your own risk. There are far safer ways of getting ones recommended levels of omega fatty acids.

A more formidable approach, Robots In Service of the Environment (RISE) is teaming up with ocean research charity Nekton, to test a prototype robot that will operate remotely in deep water to locate and kill the invasive species via a fatal electric shock or spear gun.

Referred to as remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), two models are being tested. One model carries a spear gun and the other model will electrocute the lionfish via a robot arm two electrodes.

Spear gun Model

Electronic Model, unofficially named "The Fish Zapper"

Getting close to the lionfish with either model is not too difficult. As the lionfish have no predators, they are not prone to fleeing when approached by other fish. Once within striking distance, the lionfish are easily skewered with a spear or zapped electronically. To watch a video demo, CLICK HERE.

Either approach beats the alternative! Bon appetit’. ~MD

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