Indo-pacific Red Lionfish Lionfish (Pterois volitans) are a non-native invasive species that have been documented along the entire US East Coast from Florida through Massachusetts, east to Bermuda and south throughout the Bahamas, throughout the Caribbean and now heading down the coast of South America. The expansion has been extremely rapid and exponential in scope.
Lionfish are: Voracious predators being shown to eat native fish and crustaceans in large quantities. (Juvenile Nassau grouper have been found in lionfish stomachs in the Bahamas)• Not known to have any native predators• Equipped with venomous dorsal, ventral and anal spines, which deter predators and can cause painful wounds in humans.• Capable of reproducing year-round with unique reproduction mechanisms not commonly found in native fishes• Relatively resistant to parasites, giving them another advantage over native species• Fast in their growth, able to outgrow native species with whom they compete for food and space.
How you can help:
- Start requesting Lionfish at your local restaurant.
- Join REEF www.reef.org and help by donating money to their research if you can or just by collecting fish data on your dives.
- Ask our staff to show you how to catch Lionfish and try it yourself; it’s actually fun and quite addictive; it’s amazing how smart some fish are!
Although the majority of dives with Dive Provo are made within a National Park where fishing is not allowed, Dive Provo has permission from the Department of the Environment and Coastal Resources to capture Lionfish on scuba using nets.
The Dive Provo Staff will be happy to show you the easiest method of using the nets and bringing the fish to the surface. If you want to catch Lionfish in your buddy pairs after being shown, you are welcome to do this on subsequent dives.
You can also Earn your PADI Distinctive Specialty as an Invasive Lionfish Tracker.
Lionfish are not poisonous, but the spines are venomous and can cause a nasty sting if the skin is pierced. For this reason we use special gloves and collecting bags.
The staff do not hunt Lionfish whilst guiding a dive, but you may see pairs of staff in the water with the purpose of catching Lionfish, most often on the afternoon dives. We also have some local divers who come out to help control numbers at our dive sites.
Lionfish are good to eat and any fish caught are either eaten or discarded if too small. Unfortunately the best we can hope to do with this method is control numbers in the areas we dive. Eradication is impossible until they become a prized commodity.