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Article: Loving and Loathing the Lionfish

Discussion in 'ScubaBoard Articles' started by joefdiver, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. joefdiver

    joefdiver Dive Equipment Manufacturer

    # of Dives:
    Location: Atlanta, Georgia
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  2. JimBabcock

    JimBabcock Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Houston, TX
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    While killing and eating lionfish does clear the dive sites we frequent, it does little to reduce their numbers in the shallows and depths where they exist in largest numbers and may do the most damage. The problem is that their natural predators don't recognize them as prey and/or lack the skills to kill and eat them. While you can't "teach" a predator, you can make make lionfish more noticeable and vulnerable to them. Do this by wounding and then releasing them. A wounded fish WILL attract predators and be easier prey. Predators that succeed will have a selective advantage, especially as Lionfish deplete their natural prey populations. Presumably, these Lionfish savvy predators will go on to hunt them in places we don't routinely go.
    While spearing a fish and then leaving it to die is morally repugnant, it will serve to help restore the balance we upset by introducing these invaders into the Caribbean.
     
  3. SailJuliet

    SailJuliet Dive Charter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Miami, FL
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    NOAA has gotten behind the consume lionfish movements quite a bit, you can see their distribution idea here: http://www.ccfhr.noaa.gov/docs/EatLionfishPullCard.pdf. We've been passing these out to divers for a while now and trying to help spread the word through educational presentations and training our divers how to safely kill, filet, and eat these pesky critters. We routinely have sharks come after wounded lionfish that have mistakenly gotten away from our divers (we harvest them and eat them on board) and come back for more!

    JimBabcock, I've heard from folks down in Provo, Turks and Caicos that they've been having some successes with exactly what you mentioned, working the sharks up from dead, to wounded, and eventually live healthy lionfish hunting in the wild.
     
  4. Rich Poorman

    Rich Poorman Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Oregon and St Croix, USVI
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    Sharks are getting comfortable following lionfish hunters around here at St. Croix, where nearly every boat has at least one hunter, and the dive clubs kill dozens every outing. Eels apparently eat lionfish. If you can find a spotted or green moray, try serving up a speared lionfish, or even a few chunks, within striking range. We can teach local critters to eat these tasty terrors!
     
  5. Gruz

    Gruz Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location:
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    The big question for me is: What is the lionfish's natural predator? It struck me when I was diving at the Bahamas end of 2011 and I saw way more lionfish than I did see a few months later in sharm-el-sheik, Egypt. Obviously in the natural habitat of the lionfish (the red sea) their population is regulated by somebody, else they would likely propagate similarly like e.g. in the Bahamas or Palau, as mentioned in the article.
    I did some asking around with locals at the red sea, but I found nobody (neither divers nor fishermen) who could tell me what the natural predator(s) of the lionfish are. -> Anybody has an idea?

    I have seen pictures of sharks eating lionfish, but I don't think them alone could regulate a population breeding as fast as lionfish? Maybe there is a bacteria or virus specific for lionfish in the red sea?
     
  6. American Dive Center

    American Dive Center Angel Fish

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Coral Springs FLorida
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    They say that in South Florida the Grouper will be the predator of choice. This is also to support the bans on fishing Nassau and Goliath Grouper. The numbers are increasing slowly and great congregations of Goliath can be found on some wrecks in South Florida. Perhaps this is the ultimate solution. On May 12, 2012, in the afternoon, American Dive Center is facing off with Boyntan Beach Dive Center in a Lion Fish Shoot out. We are having a pot Luck BBQ afterwards. There are still spaces available on both teams so call which ever is local to you and join the fun. 954-346-0174
     
  7. THX1138

    THX1138 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Fairfax Station, Virginia
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    Just back from diving The Blue Hole in Belize.
    Great experience, but then you look over at 135 and see a lionfish snugged up behind some the stalactites.
    In Grand Cayman, some Divemasters are training grouper to eat lionfish.
     
  8. Tavi

    Tavi NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Rochester, NY
    3,604
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  9. b-dog

    b-dog Nassau Grouper

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    Yes, those videos are very true but most people on these boards like to have a justifiable reason to kill fish on the reefs so I doubt those videos will have much influence. There are many other things that could be done which would be much more effective at helping preserve the reef systems but those would require work and effort. Most people just want to spear some lionfish while scuba-diving and then afterward drink some beer while eating lionfish fillets and feel as if they have saved the environment while on vacation.
     
  10. tylerma

    tylerma Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Grand Cayman
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    Yup, in the Grand Cayman there is defintiely a noticeable effect on popular dive spots, with decreased numbers, and the main numbers consisting of only babies. In certain spots the Mutton Snapper will eat straight off your pole spear(w/o even a chance of your dive buddy grabbing a foto), and in other other spots you have to release iy off your pole.

    The other day, we were diving off East End and I had killed a Lion and released it. The strangest thing happendend, a Quen Trigger Fish started swimming around the dead Lion Fish, and shooed away the Mutton Snappers around it. Eventually it started pulling the dead L:ion fish by its, tail, but a Mutton Snapper darted in and took it. Weird, Im guessing the trigger was going to decorate its crib with the Lion Fish.
     
    WendyCayman likes this.

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