Hunting Lionfish at Isla Marisol Resort! Published on 06/27/2017
At Isla Marisol Resort in Belize, in addition to enjoying our world-class SCUBA diving, snorkeling, paddling, and fishing tours, you can also join in our efforts to eradicate a dangerous invasive species from our waters: the Red Lionfish (Pterosis Volitans).
These unsightly, spiked, orange- and red-striped fish were thought to be released into the Atlantic sometime in the 1980s or early 90s, by private and/or public aquarium owners in Florida, who either grew weary of indulging the creatures' insatiable appetites or needed to get rid of them after the effects of the '91 hurricane.
They have since invaded coastal waters all the way from North Carolina to South America, spawning rapidly (a single Lionfish can lay up to 2 million eggs per year) and decimating local fish populations along the way, due to their voracious feeding habits (digestive tract analysis shows that one Lionfish can contain up to 10 fish or more in their gut at the time of capture). They can quickly alter their center off gravity by utilizing specialized bladder muscles, making them skilled, deadly hunters.
In addition to their prolific breeding habits, Lionfish populations are known to expand rapidly because they can thrive in a variety of marine conditions (they can survive in a wide range of temperatures and depths), and because they have no natural predators in the Caribbean and wider Atlantic -- they are native to Indian and Pacific oceans, and therefore local fish predators may not readily recognize them as food. Furthermore, their venomous spikes do not make them easy prey!
At Isla Marisol Resort, we engage in active hunting of the Lionfish to help control the population around Glover's Reef. Spears are the most effective instrument for capturing them. As a precaution, our guides will advise you to spear them in the head. If speared in the sides, they can swim up the spear and stab you in the hand. Guides will also often clip their spikes after capture to avoid further risk of injury. The sting of a Lionfish, though rarely fatal, can be very painful.
Back at our island restaurant, your fresh catch of Lionfish will be prepared into any number of delicious meals, such as our mouth-watering ceviche or fish tacos! Contact us today to learn more about how you can come to Isla Marisol and help us control the Lionfish population around our atoll!