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Lion Fish in the Coral Sea

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

The black lionfish, as captured here like never before, is certainly an ominous and elusive sea creature. The black lionfish is masterfully captured in this digital art on canvas named ‘Lion Fish in the Coral Sea’ by Schmidt of Schmidt Fine Art Gallery. The dark and brooding image pays homage to the dangerous nature of this coral fish. Similar to pink, red, or white lionfish, the black lionfish is a venomous coral reef fish that is indegienous to the coral sea, and known to be an invasive species in other ecosystems. Despite its feisty disposition, the black lionfish is a sought after species for many aquariums, museums, and displays, and is a prime example of countless millennia of underwater evolution.

The black lionfish (otherwise known as Pterois) has defining characteristics of stripes that could be red, white and black, as well as long and attractive pectoral fins, and of course the spiked venomous tentacles. The lionfish are known to have up to fifteen different species, but only three are commonly studied, like the one pictured above. Due to their uniqueness, not only are lionfish regarded as a popular aquarium fish, they are also used as food in the culinary world all around the globe. The lionfish is eaten in many seafood restaurants and has a buttery flavor to the filet, but the question remains: is it safe to eat lionfish?

Among marine biologists and researchers, it is currently debated whether the black lionfish venomous dorsal spines are used purely for defense or as a method to attack and stun its prey. Either way, it carries toxins that are known to cause vomiting, pain, and discomfort in humans. They are also regarded as an invasive species in certain parts of the Atlantic and Pacific. To address this, many places have conducted lionfish derbies, which are essentially competitions to catch lionfish with prizes given out to teams that catch the most, the largest and the smallest specimens. 

During these derbies, people not only realized they were fun to catch, but also quite tasty. That said, eating lionfish certainly has its drawbacks. Besides the scrumptious, buttery filets, lionfish also come complete with long, sharp spines protruding from their backs and sides. Therefore, cooks and chefs that take a stab at fileting these venomous fish must be extremely careful and use a delicate touch, as to avoid pricking a finger. The good news is that venom is only dangerous when injected by the spines, so it won’t contaminate the meat. Also, heat will disarm the venom so cooking it makes it safe to eat. The real danger is in the kitchen. 

About five years ago, the United States Food and Drug Administration added lionfish to its list of species that could cause ciguatera, which is a type of food poisoning caused by toxins in the meat of fish in the coral reef. Other species of fish on this list are other big predators in the coral reef like grouper, snapper and barracuda. It is still debated by marine experts whether lionfish meat can actually cause ciguatera food poisoning, and there aren’t any known cases linking lionfish to the illness.

So, not only is eating lionfish safe, it is also a sustainable practice. To date, most lionfish fisheries are operated by volunteers. Many marine experts still debate the importance of a commercial fishery. One side argues that it would lead to more people hunting the lionfish, which is currently the best option for lionfish control, while the other side debates that introducing profits would only manage the lionfish population, not eradicate it. 

As a photographer, Kurt Schmidt of Schmidt Fine Art Gallery combined his lifelong passion for scuba diving as well as underwater photography to capture the immense diversity of aquatic life. He has found that through constant experimentation, he is able to produce up close and personal snapshots of aquatic landscapes and sea creatures. At a young age, Schmidt had a vision for what underwater photography could be, and decided to fashion his own waterproof camera complete with a powerful lighting rig.

Through the gracious support of the art community in which he works, Schmidt founded a gallery where other photographers can display their work. Schmidt realized that with the emergence of online photography and smartphones, it  is more challenging for emerging artists to be discovered, or for art collectors and buyers to find fresh talent. Therefore, he is always looking to help artists that either currently work in the field with no platform or need encouragement to get their photographs out into the public-eye.

Whether you are an aspiring photographer or an art collector in search of inspiring works to fill your home, Schmidt Fine Art Gallery is here to service you. We are a gallery for the artist by the artist. Our mission is to serve as the place for artists to simply sell art, without the overburdening of promotion, marketing and running a start-up business. We are committed to producing high-quality, museum grade products and timeless works of art on canvas or digital that can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Lion Fish in the Coral Sea is available in all sizes and formats.  You can pick your own frame and finish on this piece in our customization shop.

Schmidt Gallery was founded by Kurt Schmidt with the vision to establish a photo-centric gallery in the heart of Montgomery county, Texas. Although it is all run online at the moment, Schmidt Gallery has dreams of opening up a brick and mortar gallery in The Woodlands just north of Houston. Schmidt Fine Art Gallery was founded in March 2020 as a startup funded by All ARK LLC. 

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