Bimini Resort Hosts Lionfish SMASH
(DiverWire.com) – The venomous lionfish is native to the Indo-Pacific Region, and is therefore, an invasive species everywhere else. A popular claim regarding their introduction to the Atlantic Ocean is through the aquarium trade. Owners released them either by accident or on purpose when they could no longer care for them.
What the owners didn’t know or realize was the lionfish have no known predators here. However they should have been aware of the fact that they have an insatiable appetite, eating basically anything that fits in their mouth. That means native juvenile fish like yellowtail, grouper, and snapper can be appetizers followed by shrimp, small octopus, lobster and even mollusks as part of the main meal.
Now add to the crisis that females release a pair of mucus-encapsulated clusters of 2,000 to 15,000 eggs each time they spawn and one male typically has a harem of 3 to 8 females. What to do?
With lionfish populations exploding in the United States, Bahamas and Caribbean, many groups are organizing local tournaments to help educate and eradicate this locust of our seas.
Recently the South Florida Freedivers Club in Miami, Florida hosted its second annual “Lionfish Smash” at Bimini Bay Resort in the Bahamas. At the captain’s kickoff party Alecia Adamson, Field Operations and Outreach Coordinator from Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), gave a presentation that included safe handling techniques. On the day of the event, divers worked closely with the Bahamian government to document size and check stomach content. Participants were then treated to lionfish deliquesces prepared by celebrity Chef Ralph Pagano. Lionfish are not only edible by humans; they are, in fact, quite tasty. In the Pacific region they are sold as a food fish and there are even rumors from Asia that eating lionfish is an aphrodisiac.
Aside from building lionfish awareness, Joe Fernandez, President of South Florida Freedivers Club, said they wanted to help the community. Proceeds from the event went to benefit Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami. Alex Rodriguez, the Executive Director, attended the award presentation to thank everyone for their support. He mentioned the funds are earmarked to sponsor 700 kids in afterschool programs with homework assistance along with health and fitness education. Local Smootie King locations joined the efforts by donating to the cause. Everyone’s efforts are greatly appreciated!
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