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Lionfish numbers

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pelagic_by_nature

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I have been on 4 dives so far this trip have yet to see one. Palancar Caves, Dalalia, Colombia Deep, and Paso de Cedral and not one single sighting. Seems like just a couple of years ago they were everywhere.

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MMM

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DMs are doing a great job culling them at recreational depths. We didn't see any yesterday. Saw some when we were 'way, ,way north (up by the far north lighthouse) a few days ago but that was about the only fish we saw,and not even all that many of them... commercial fishermen have really cleaned out that area!
 

gopbroek

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There are a lot of people, myself included, spearing lionfish so the pressure around the primary dive sites is going up dramatically, that being said I think we are doomed to lose this battle by spear alone. Unfortunately on my last couple trips I am coming across large adults more frequently and they are very aware that they being hunted and skittish, they are normally at an entrance to a good escape hole. Last month at Punta Sur I saw very few in the open but I went into a passage at about 90’ I came across a group of 6, 2 about 8-10”, 2 about 12-16” and 2 full grown adults 18” and the bodies were bulking up. 5 of the 6 saw me and took off into narrow passages like rockets, they knew exactly what I planned and it was not their first rodeo. One of the dink’s stayed put and gave me the stupid ‘what, me’ look, which led to his death.
In the shallower dive sites, in the late afternoons and twilight I also noticed that in areas like the Horseshoe, Delilah and other popular sites after the bulk of the dive operations are gone, they start popping out of holes to feed. Some do not realize what a spear is but many have been hunted before and avoid humans.
Cozumel is one of the most heavily dived areas in the Carib and one of the areas with the most liberal ‘Defacto’ hunting rules and I think the Lionfish are adapting to being hunted better than we are learning to eradicating them.
 

MMM

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You make a good point. The DM I dive with says you absolutely MUST kill them once you attempt to do so or they become more and more elusive.

Unfortunately on my last couple trips I am coming across large adults more frequently and they are very aware that they being hunted and skittish, they are normally at an entrance to a good escape hole.
 

Pelagicsal

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You're right, Marg.
And those who believe the lionfish are dead because they were speared are wrong, wrong, wrong! Puncture wounds, trimmed away stinging spines, trimmed away fins - including full tail fin - all healed over, leaving the lionfish seemingly otherwise healthy.

Kill 'em all! (Yes, I know, but I am willing to try...)
 

Zman96

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You're right, Marg.
And those who believe the lionfish are dead because they were speared are wrong, wrong, wrong! Puncture wounds, trimmed away stinging spines, trimmed away fins - including full tail fin - all healed over, leaving the lionfish seemingly otherwise healthy.


Kill 'em all! (Yes, I know, but I am willing to try...)

I am amazed at their resiliency after being speared. We shot and kept about 50 of them up north and kept them on a line and when we got back on the boat a good number of them were still alive even more than an hour after having 3 prongs of a spear go right through them, plus the line they were attached too.
 

macado

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Nuke 'em from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.. :)

There are definitely fewer numbers in the marine park; That is very clear. DMs do a very good job of policing those sections. Outside the marine park or in sites that are less dove, it's a different story.

Like Sallye, I've speared (re-speared?) many lionfish with previous battle scars that have healed. They're pretty resilient bastards so I make sure to inflict a fatal wound that they can't recover from before I let them off my spear. Shear or a Knife right behind eyes/head, works well. t q. -


 

sharky60

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The numbers MAY be down in the areas where we are hunting on a regular basis, but I've been working with Aldora on the story of their "polar express" explorations on the Norhwest end of the island.

There are plenty of lionfish up there. Steve Hazard told me that they are plentiful and large ... so all you Aldora lionfish hunters may have a new hunting ground come mid-March...look for the "Polar Express-part 2" on the youtube & the blog, coming soon.

and gopbroak is right, once you get blow 100' on any of our deep dive sites, the populations pick up.

we did a "lionfish hunt" last year or maybe the year before...time flies, on a site that Jorge called "Franco", he said it was basically the wall of Francessa.

And at 100' plus, they were all over the place, usually in groups of 2 or more & I was on air on my third dive of the day, so I wasn't down there for very long at all.

my theory is that nature will eventually find a way of balancing the issue...it always does. It may not be in most of our lifetimes, unfortunately, but I do believe it will happen. I think some predators are already starting to catch on, eels in particular and it might be the reason for the noticeably higher "real shark" sightings on our reefs throughout the year.
 

Brules

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As I have said countless times before, the only way to deal with them is to get people to like to eat them. Problem solved as humans will hunt things to extinction. :)

Seriously.....the people of Cozumel and all restaurants should offer them on their menus to encourage people to hunt them outside the park. The govt should promote eating them, especially to tourists. Big signs saying:

"Welcome to Cozumel - please eat our lionfish - as much as you can!"

"Lionfish - the other other white meat"

Etc. :)
 

macado

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There are plenty of lionfish up there. Steve Hazard told me that they are plentiful and large ... so all you Aldora lionfish hunters may have a new hunting ground come mid-March...look for the "Polar Express-part 2" on the youtube & the blog, coming soon.

And at 100' plus, they were all over the place, usually in groups of 2 or more & I was on air on my third dive of the day, so I wasn't down there for very long at all.

I've done many a "polar express" dive with Aldora and have found numbers much higher up north, especially at uncharted dive sites where other dive operators haven't visited. I have found many lionfish beyond 100' but not in the numbers that I would have expected, considering their numbers in shallow areas.
 
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