World Environment Day - Lionfish are invading!Project & Pod News / 04 June 2018
This years World Environment Day we are featuring our Reef Conservation team who are trying to stop a potential disaster on the corals and reefs in Belize. Lionfish are an invasive species in Belize, they breed at an alarming rate (a female can lay up to 2 million eggs each year) & feed on key coral species! Our team of volunteers are taught how to cull the Lionfish while diving in the Caribbean crytsal clear waters.
The Lionfish invasion is thought to have started back in 1985 in Southern Florida when people released their home aquarium Lionfish into the Atlantic Ocean to dispose of their unwanted pets.
In their non-native habitats (such as the Caribbean) Lionfish are a serious threat to the marine habitats that they invade as they have no predators which means the population can increase rapidly.
They are gluttonous hunters and can eat any marine creature that fit in their mouths (octopus/lobster/tuna to name just a few!) and have been known to eat fish up to two thirds their own body size! Studies have shown that one single Lionfish can reduce the number of species that it can consume by up to 80% in less than 1 week.
Without population control, lionfish could cause the destruction of the reef and fish stocks, which not only impacts the ecosystem but also the livelihoods that depend on them.
The first Lionfish sighting in Northern Belize was in December 2008, sighted by a Dive Instructor. A little later, the first Lionfish sighting in Southern Belize was in November 2009, by our Reef Conservation project team. The biggest recorded Lionfish caught in Belize was speared by the team at the project and it was 44 cm and weighed 3.75lbs!
Our team at the Belize Reef Conservation project are helping protect the future of reefs through constant and active Lionfish population control, spearing and collecting the specimens during diving conservation work. The team are also helping the local restaurants drum up demand for Lionfish so local fishermen can join in the cull and sell on their catches to chefs to make tasty fish fingers, tacos and ceviche!
What can I do to help?
You can either join our Reef Conservation in Belize or if you are in the Caribbean, Mexico or anywhere along the Western Atlantic Basin why not order Lionfish on the menu and be part of the conservation of the oceans through your tasty meal!