Make a difference by removing lionfish, an invasive species decimating reef ecosystems. Learn to dive or further your skills while culling lionfish with our team.
Our lionfish program focuses solely on removing this invasive species from the reef ecosystem.
People often feel that “releasing” a fish or any other animal into the wild is a good thing, but not in the case of the lionfish! The initial source of the lionfish invasion can be pinpointed to personal aquarium releases in Florida back in 1985, probably by people whose lionfish were getting too big for the tank or eating the other fish. Lionfish are indigenous to the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Red Sea but not the Atlantic-Caribbean belt. In their natural habitat, they have a diet that is not a threat to the environment; there are many more varieties of species and they have natural predators to keep their numbers in check. However, in the Atlantic-Caribbean oceans they are an invasive predator, feeding on species that are key to our healthy reef environment such as juvenile groupers, parrotfish and crustaceans. These native species have no evolutionary defence mechanism against the invasive lionfish.
You will be capturing and removing as many lionfish as you can. Here in Southern Belize, we at ReefCI spotted our first lionfish in November 2009 but they were few and far between. Now we are spotting them on every dive and sometimes as many as 50-100 at one dive site. This is a dramatic increase and extremely worrying as we are the only divers in the area. ReefCI divers and snorkelers are actively involved in removing this invasive lionfish from Belizean waters. You will be capturing as many as you can!! After capture, we dissect some of the fish and study their stomach contents for research purposes. Then we eat! ReefCI volunteers often get lionfish on the dinner menu, cooked in garlic and black pepper or ceviche, they are extremely tasty.