They are beautiful, dressed with vivid colors of red, white and black. They have elegant venomous spines and a developed killing instinct. They are one of the top predators of this area, but the problem is, that they are not supposed to be here.
Lionfish are a threat to our reefs. This invasive species is eating the native fish without anyone to stop them. Not even sharks seem interested in them. Someone needs to make a stand, and that someone is us, the Pez Maya team.
So with that on mind we decided to organize “THE HUNT”. This event had a triple purpose; the main one, of course, to help our reef by removing some of the Lionfish found in the area. The second was to help our fellow GVI colleagues in Nepal by raising money to buy supplies for the earthquake victims of the May 2015 earthquakes in that area. And, last but not least, this hunt was the launch of our new Lionfish research project at Pez Maya, were we will study, monitor and dissect this species in a more structured program.
We split into two teams, ‘The Guardians of the Reef ’ and ‘The Avengers’. We started off with a quiz on the biology, behavior and history of this fish. Next we watched tarining videos, receiving lectures, practised using the spear on land, and then in water; and finally finished off off with thorough safety precautions, especially on handling the fish after they have been shot.
Then came the day for the big hunt! Our battleground was the diving site famous for the amount of Lionfish sightings and each team had 38 minutes to catch as many Lionfish as possible. We managed to catch 18 in total! All fish were
measured, filleted, and dissected and the information recorded. Interesting finds in the stomachs were things like
juvenile filefish, and a praying Mantis Shrimp – showing what a voracious predator the Lionfish really is.
We ended the day off by cooking the lion fish. The Guardians of the Reef were a little more elegant, creating a breaded Lionfish dish served with white wine and dipping sauces. While The Avengers were a little more daring and created a ceviche full with flavour, strategically placed along the torso of one of the team members, who wore a simple palm loincloth. That act earned them the prize of the best presentation!
It was a fantastically fun day, but most importantly we caught 18 Lionfish, a new record in Pez Maya and more than $800 was donated to Nepal.
We look forward to bringing you news of how this research project progresses.