Beautiful, deadly and a threat to our reefs. That’s all you need to know about the Red Lionfish (Pterois Volitans), an indo Pacific fish that has become a menace in Cayman waters.
First observed near Palm Beach in 1992, Lionfish populations have now spread throughout the Caribbean and constitute a major threat to coral reef health. The first Lionfish was seen in Cayman waters in 2008 on Little Cayman; now they are everywhere. Ocean Frontiers spotted the first Lionfish in East End on the 18th January 2009 on the dive site, Fantasea Land.
Lionfish are voracious eaters. More than 50 species of reef fish have been found in lionfish stomachs. One researcher observed one lionfish eat 20 small wrasses in a 30-minute period. Studies show that unchecked, these invasive predators could reduce reef diversity by as much as 80 percent.
That is why we have no choice but to cull as many lionfish as we can. It hurts to have to remove such beautiful fish, but it is all we can do to help and hope.
Divers often ask, how can people who love the ocean and its wildlife devote so much energy to killing fish? Truly we wish there was another way. But until some larger Caribbean fish, such as sharks and groupers, develop a taste for lionfish, we have other choice.
Join an Ocean Frontiers Lionfish Hunt on your next visit, click here for more info.
Lionfish will also be featured on the new Eagle Ray's Dive Bar & Grill menu.