Dive Derbies Taking Out Invasive Lionfish

Dive Derbies Taking Out Invasive Lionfish
Dive Derbies Taking Out Invasive Lionfish

It’s believed the venomous Indo-Pacific red lionfish got a foothold in the Atlantic Ocean in the 1980s when people carelessly released the popular aquarium fish. Now established in Florida waters with no natural predators, the rapidly growing population steals space and food resources from domestic species like grouper and snapper as well as eating native juvenile fish.

Since humans put them there, REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation) came up with a way man could help take them back out. The grass-roots, non-profit organization of recreational divers who also conduct fish biodiversity and abundance surveys, set up a series of derbies with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to harvest as many of the invasive fish as possible.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, 50 divers set out from Stock Island, Fla., to compete for cash and prizes in The Lower Keys Lionfish Derby. They collected 312 red lionfish from the Marine Sanctuary, with the top prize of $1,000 going to Bottle Buddies for its haul of 110 lionfish.

The team, consisting of Bob Elkins and Bob Cerkleski of Key West, also caught the derby’s largest lionfish. It measured 13.54 inches and earned the team an additional $500 prize. Team Austin Assassins earned $500 for bringing in the smallest lionfish, measuring 3.15 inches. Teammates Curtis Mueller, Harris Casey, David Price and Matt Magnum all hail from Austin, Texas.


Teams had between dawn-to-dusk and could use a variety of capture methods while either SCUBA diving, free diving, or snorkeling. Since the lionfish, so named due to the large venomous spines that protrude from their bodies like a mane, are dangerous to humans, participants were briefed on safe collection and handling procedures. Also, each team member is required to sign a liability waiver.


REEF has found the derbies are important venues for invasive species outreach and education. Teams and spectators are also informed on why lionfish are detrimental to ocean ecosystems, as well as taste several recipes. The group is also hoping to draw media attention to the Atlantic lionfish invasion and help promote the possible development of a commercial market.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Mustad

Mustad's Inkvader Octopus Live Jig

From big fish to small, just about any saltwater game fish out there will love the new Mustad Inkvader Octopus Live Jig that Mustad's Russ Whisler shows to OSG's Lynn Burkhead.

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

As Pure Fishing's Andrew Upshaw explains, reel making giant Abu Garcia has done it again at ICAST 2019 with a new spinning reel geared towards finesse fishermen.

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options. Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the Garden State's hottest bass fishing. Destinations

7 Best Bets for New Jersey Bass

J.B. Kasper - October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

How a humble Virginia hunter bagged the biggest non-typical whitetail a bowhunter has ever seen. Whitetail

The Story Behind Brewster's World-Record Buck

Lynn Burkhead - October 17, 2019

How a humble Virginia hunter bagged the biggest non-typical whitetail a bowhunter has ever...

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

Where and how some of the state's best archery bucks were killed last season. Whitetail

Oklahoma's Big Archery Bucks of 2018

Kelly Bostian

Where and how some of the state's best archery bucks were killed last season.

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip. Other Freshwater

240 Pounds! Massive Alligator Gar Taken on Father's Day

Lynn Burkhead - June 22, 2020

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip.

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now