Blacktip Island Resort Launches Lionfish Spa

A free-range Indo-Pacific lionfish readies for a day’s work at Blacktip Haven’s new Lionfish Beauty Spa. (photo courtesy of Paula Whitfield)

A free-range Indo-Pacific lionfish readies for a day’s work at Blacktip Haven’s new Lionfish Beauty Spa. (photo courtesy of Paula Whitfield)

Blacktip Haven resort will open the Lionfish Beauty Spa this weekend as part of the resort’s continuing effort to combat the invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish overwhelming the Caribbean island’s reefs.

“Other resorts encourage scuba divers to hunt lionfish and kill them,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “They serve lionfish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But karma’s a harsh mistress, even on the piscine level. Our goal’s to keep lionfish from destroying the reefs without us becoming killers.

“This spa lets us welcome lionfish as part of the solution instead of demonizing them. We can’t beat them and we won’t kill them, so we’re joining with them.”

Spa patrons will be able to submerge their hands, feet, or entire bodies in specially designed lionfish pools, where the voracious predators will eat any dry or damaged skin.

“Whether it’s calloused feet, chapped lips, or a bad outbreak of psoriasis, these lionfish will work wonders for you,” Blacktip Haven masseuse Jessie Catahoula said. “It’s a mani-pedi and so much more!”

“I wish I’d thought of it,” said Blacktip Island Chamber of Commerce president and Club Scuba Doo owner Ham Pilchard. “You see spas like this in Europe, but with minnows. It took someone with Elena’s special vision to adapt that to Blacktip.”

Local environmentalists are supportive as well.

“No lionfish are harmed in the spa, and the pools are open to the sea so the fish can come and go as they please,” Blacktip Island PETA head Harry Pickett said. “Elena also makes sure the fish get regular rest periods, and at least one day off per week to rejuvenate.”

As an added benefit to customers, the spa will also use lionfish venom as a skin-tightening agent.

“The toxin in their dorsal spines is chemically similar to Botox, and renders similar results,” local marine biologist Joey Pompano said. “It’s uncanny.”

“One spine poke in the cheek and you look years younger for the next three, four weeks,” Catahoula said. “Plus, it’s all natural, 100% organic and gluten free.

“The idea may sound fishy,” Catahoula said, “but the results speak for themselves.”

The spa plans to explore additional uses for the lionfish.

“On the molecular level, lionfish toxin’s structurally quite similar to Viagra,” Havens said. “That could open up a whole new line of spa treatment, but no one’s had the courage to put that to the test. Yet.”

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