A Florida diver was reported in stable condition after being stung by a venomous lionfish while diving in about 100 feet of water near Boca Raton.
The unidentified man in his mid-50s felt a tingling in his upper body and came to the surface, the Palm Beach Post reported. He was quickly brought to a boat dock at Silver Palm Park and flown by the Trauma Hawk rescue helicopter to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach. The medical facility is equipped with a hyperbaric chamber for injured divers.
Lionfish have venomous spines that can cause extreme pain when divers or swimmers are stung. The fish are native to the Indo-Pacific, but have increased in population on the eastern coast of Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico.
Since lionfish are not native to the Atlantic, they have few predators and could affect the native fish populations, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The dumping of lionfish by people from aquariums may be responsible for the increase in the Atlantic waters over the past 25 years, the NOAA said.
The venomous lionfish feed on a variety of fish, including snapper and grouper, which are important to Florida commercial fishing.
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