How to extract lionfish otoliths

Do you need to know how to get ear bones out of lionfish? Or are you just curious to know what the inside of a lionfish’s head looks like? Either way check out this film shot on location in Abaco, Bahamas featuring the crack lionfish catching team, Serena Hackerott and Katie Dubois.


Otoliths are teeny tiny bones inside fish’s heads that act kind of like a biological version of the accelerometer inside a smart phone or a wii handset – they detect gravity and acceleration, so essentially help the fish figure out where it is and where it’s going.

And you can find out all sorts of cool things from fish otoliths. Like trees, you can count their growth rings and work out how old the fish was. Otoliths can also reveal a whole lot of things about the water that the fish swam through. And they also preserve really well in the fossil record and have been used to figure out what people thousands of years ago were eating.

Read out more about Serena’s work with lionfish  at her guest post for Seamonster. And here too including some awesome footage of her catching lionfish.






2 responses to “How to extract lionfish otoliths”

  1. Richard Appaldo

    Very well made video! What do you mean by ” they (otoliths) have been used to figure out what people thousand years ago were eating ” ? Do people have otolith too?

    1. John Bruno

      People do not have otoliths but otoliths can be recovered from archeological remains (eg, shell middens in the Caribbean, pub floors in Europe), identified, analyzed, etc to see what fishes people were eating, how big the fish were, how fast they were growing, etc.

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