"" Writer's Wanderings: The Lion Fish Hunters

Friday, July 08, 2016

The Lion Fish Hunters

There are several speculations on how the lion fish native to the South Pacific came to invade the warmer waters of the southern Atlantic and the Caribbean. The most commonly touted is that there were several released into the waters off the Florida shore when Hurricane Andrew moved through and destroyed an aquarium. I did find some reports of sightings though that dated back to 1985, well before Andrew in 1992. Whatever their origin, the invasion has taken place and those who care for the oceans are scrambling to try to contain it.

Why you ask? The lion fish are a spectacular fish with spiny and lacy looking adornments often colorful oranges or black and white markings. As divers know, some of the prettiest fish are the deadliest. The spines are dangerous and can inflict great pain and cause you quite an illness. To the natural marine life in these waters they are even more deadly. They have a voracious appetite and feed off of most any small fish and even some that are 2/3 their size. And in the waters of the Caribbean, they have few predators--until now.

Enter the Lion Fish Hunters. Divers are offered the opportunity to learn to spear the lion fish. Bob and our grandson took the course that is offered while we were in Grand Cayman diving. They were given instructions and then sent out in groups on a dive to locate and spear as many as they could find. It is a tedious and often unsuccessful venture and I believe it would take more practice than what they had. Out of a boat full of about ten divers, there were only eight lion fish speared but the more experienced are more successful. One report we saw said our dive operators had culled 10,000 from the area. Of course the hearty lion fish spawn every two to three days so that's barely making a dent.

The up side of this is that the lion fish are quite tasty and local restaurants are serving them in several different ways including ceviche which was made from two of the lion fish caught on the dive boat. The boys had their appetizer before they came home for dinner.

If you'd like to read more about the lion fish invasion click here for an informative article.




1 comment:

Mean Puppies Inc. said...

We tried lionfish at an invasive species awareness event and it was very tasty :) Much better than the iguana!!

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