Sustainable Diving For a Purpose: Help Control the Lion Fish Invasion

Diving in order to enjoy the beautiful coral reefs, variety a beautiful colorful fish and discovering the mysteries of the underwater world, is an adventure that keeps one going back for more. Every dive is unique and you truly never know what kind interesting sea creatures that may cross your path from one dive to the next.

From the early age of 16 years old,  I have had the chance to explore many incredible dive spots throughout the world, including the famous Great Blue Hole in Belize. 

I actively seek out new and exciting places to dive every time I travel to the Caribbean, in hopes to discover something completely new. Belize, in Central America,  is considered to have some of the best diving spots in the world, and is home to the second largest barrier reef, right after the one in Australia.

During my stay in Belize, I collaborated with an inclusive Eco Resort called Hamansi, which is known for their sustainable impact throughout the world.

My mission at Hamanasi was to visit and learn about the advancements that they are making in comparison to other parts of the world in terms of being more sustainable. In addition,  we decided to combine sustainable practices with adventure in order to create a perfect day together on the ocean.

I instantly fell in love with the beauty of the coral reef and the variety of beautiful fish. However, in the midst of all the tiny fish swimming around, I noticed one fish in particular that was more beautiful than others. The Lion Fish is brightly colored, with all of the colors of the rainbow and notably stuck out.

Although this gorgeous fish seems innocent, its actually quite dangerous and causes a very high threat to the biodiversity of the marine life and the coral reef. The scary part about this type of fish is that they are serious predators and are multiplying at a very fast rate. Its crazy to think that just one single female can lay up to 2 million eggs!

They will eat absolutely anything that will fit into their mouth along their path, including things that are up to over 2/3 their body size, such as snapper, grouper, octopus, lobsters, crabs and the list keeps going on and on.

The stomach of a Lionfish can expand up to 30 times their normal volume and can easily consume up to 30 juvenile fish in just one minute! With this information its very easy to see how they will be able to reduce the marine life by up to 80% in the years to come if not controlled.

The sad part about this is that they have no predators and more and more damage is being done each day. If the problem continues to get worse, this will kill all of our coral, which greatly affects tourism in countries such as Belize, where over half of their revenue is from. This will also affect fishermen as the fish die off, which in return will greatly hurt the economy.

However, with every problem there is a solution and many people from around the world are taking action against this serious problem. Different organizations are being formed in hope to control this problem and get more divers involved in hunting these vicious fish.

In fact, there are even competitions set up in many countries to see at the end of the day who can catch the “biggest and baddest” fish of all. After they are caught, they are taken to the kitchen, cleaned, cut up and cooked. Just because they are venomous does not mean they are poison to eat.

After learning all of that valuable information,  I couldn’t just dive into the ocean for fun and not show my respect by doing my part in making a sustainable difference while under water. So in the end, I decided to take the spear gun down and go on my own hunt in order to see what I could find. In just 45 minutes I hunted 5 Lionfish, which I think was pretty good for a newby.

The night after our dive, we took what we caught to the kitchen, cleaned them up and prepared them in different ways.  I was surprised by the delicious taste and I have to admit that it was one of the best tasting fish I have ever had.

In the end, it may seem like the five lionfish that I hunted, in an ocean of billions, does not make that big of a difference. However, if each and every diver took some of their vacation time in order to dive sustainably, together, we could make a lasting change.

Dive responsibly and sustainably and help towards eradicating the Lionfish invasion.

 

 

 

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