The appearance of the lionfish on beaches in the Brazilian Northeast has put environmentalists and authorities on alert in the region. This is because the animal is considered a threat to both the marine ecosystem and humans. The species has thorns that contain venom and can cause pain, convulsions, and even cardiac arrest — as happened with a fisherman at Praia de Bitupitá, in Barroquinha, Ceará, on April 18.
Francisco Mauro da Costa Albuquerque, 24, stepped on a lionfish and was taken to a local hospital with pain and convulsions caused by the animal's venom. The fisherman had two cardiac arrests before being revived by doctors. In Ceará, Pterois volitans, the scientific name of the lionfish, has already been found in Camocim, Acaraú, Cruz, and in the municipality of Jijoca de Jericoacoara, one of the best-known beaches in the country. In Piauí, in Cajueiro da Praia, close to the border with Ceará. "So far, 30 individuals have been found [in the state], but as the years go by, the number could increase if there is no environmental control by the authorities", says Professor Marcelo Soares from the Institute of Sciences of the Mar (Labomar) from the Federal University of Ceará (UFC).
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon