Lionfish in the Turks and Caicos Islands

Beautiful and colourful but a disastrous predator eating juvenile fish on Turks and Caicos Islands reefs.

Beautiful and colourful but a disastrous predator eating juvenile fish on Turks and Caicos Islands reefs.

Lionfish are also known as Turkey fish, Dragon fish or scorpion fish and they are now a serious threat to our coral reefs and surrounding waters here in the Turks and Caicos Islands. If left to their own devices, lionfish could multiply in number into the millions eating up all marine life on the reef and then move into shallower waters where they will find conch and lobster. They are an extremely invasive species.

A snuba gal comes face to face with a Lionfish and Jodi from Snuba TCI snapped this great photo.

A snuba gal comes face to face with a Lionfish and Jodi from Snuba TCI snapped this great photo.

In June of 2009, Jodi and Snuba TCI donated $1200.00 worth of Lionfish catching gear….nets, gloves and collecting bags and gave it to the DECR on Provo. Jodi has caught at least 18 Lionfish on the Bight Reef at Coral Gardens also known as the White House Reef. I believe the first Lionfish sighted way back in 2006 was in this area. Today, all the dive operators are taking up the battle to catch any Lionfish they see out at the dive sites.

Lionfish have up to 18 needle like dorsal fins which contain venom purely for defensive purposes.

Lionfish have up to 18 needle like dorsal fins which contain venom purely for defensive purposes.

Lionfish are not poisonous but their spines are venomous and can cause a nasty sting to humans. They rely on lightening quick reflexes and camouflage to catch their prey.  They are a perfectly safe and delicious food fish once the fins have been removed. What remains is a tasty filet that’s as good as grouper according to some. The DECR has launched a 12 month long lionfish tournament which will award $3,000.00 to the first fisherman to record 3,000 lionfish catches.

Lionfish will hopefully be added to the menu at many of our islands' restaurants.

Lionfish will hopefully be added to the menu at many of our islands' restaurants.

Here’s what you can do to help:  Ask for lionfish at your favourite restaurants. Ask Mickey and Jayne of Flamingo Divers or Jodi to show you how to catch them (other island dive operators can show you too). Join REEF and give a donation towards their research or just by collecting data on lionfish when you dive.

Thanks once again to Jodi of Snuba TCI and Jayne of Flamingo Divers for such great photos of Lionfish.

 

Marta

 

http://www.diving.tc

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