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Lionfish Lurks Aplenty In Belizean Waters #410578
06/25/11 08:27 AM
06/25/11 08:27 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 73,395
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
We first heard of The Lionfish in 2009 - and that's when the predator first appeared in Belizean waters. At the time, the hope was that the aggressive predator could be contained.

But it turns out that all best efforts were futile and the Lionfish has both populated Belize's reef and proliferated across it.

An excellent snapshot of its growth in numbers and areas inhabited comes from a researcher working on her doctoral dissertation. She is Andrea Anton from he University of North Carolina, who is doing her doctorate on the Lionfish here in Belize.

She discussed her findings over three years of study and said that like everywhere else in the Caribbean, the Lionfish is spreading:…

Andrea Anton, University Of North Carolina
"They are taking over the entire Caribbean so it's a huge invasion. The entire Caribbean is getting invaded by this fish."

Jules Vasquez Reporting
And Anton's research in Belize over three years shows that these caT quick predators are also taking over the waters in this country.

This map shows all the places she found them in Belizean waters in 2011.

Andrea Anton, University Of North Carolina
"We came the first time to Belize in 2009 and we surveyed 19 sites along the Belizean Barrier Reef. In 2009 we found no lionfish in any of our sites. In 2010 we came and we did the same thing, we found lionfish in two sites and now in 2011 we found lionfish in all the sites, so they are here and they invaded almost the entire barrier reef."

As this video from youtube shows - the poisonous lionfish is a tenacious predator - pursuing its hapless prey until he eventually snares him. His skill as a hunter is enhanced by the fact that native fish don't see this odd creature as a predator - in fact, with its strange appearance, they might not even see it as a fish.

The introduction of this invasive non-native predator in Belizean waters could decimate traditional fish stocks:

Andrea Anton, University Of North Carolina
"First they feed on juveniles and some of those juvenile fish are snapper and grouper, so they feed on the snapper and grouper when they are small but they also compete with the adults for food because they are all feeding on the same prey items."

And with the broad area the lionfish now covers, the only way to contain them is to start eating the, Yes, they have poisonous spines, but as this video shows, those are easily removed, revealing tasty, succulent flesh.

Anton says, that's the solution, make Lionfish a delicacy:

Andrea Anton, University Of North Carolina
"Something that you can eat. So people eating them, restaurants serving them, fishermen making a business out of lionfish."

Jules Vasquez
"But a lot of people are afraid of it because it have this poisonous spine."

Andrea Anton, University Of North Carolina
"The poison is only on the spine. Once you catch the lionfish - they are very easy to catch, they basically don't move, so you can catch them very easily. I catch them with a small net and I have never been fishing person and I caught hundreds of them. They are not difficult to catch, once you catch them you just need to cut the spines and the poison is on the spines and then they are just like other regular fish. You can clean them, fillet them, fry them, eat them and can serve them like a regular fish."

Jules Vasquez
"And is it nice?"

Andrea Anton, University Of North Carolina
"It taste wonderful. It very similar to snapper and grouper but the meat is really delicate because they don't move a lot and they have some fat in between the muscle so they taste really good. It's very delicate meat."

And, it's not just a casual suggestion - it's a must; the Lionfish invasion is at an advanced stage already - but other infestations show, it can get much worse:

Andrea Anton, University Of North Carolina
"I can get way worst like really quickly. Hopefully we will be coming back next year but it can get at least base on other invaded areas at least 5 times worst in some places. We are finding around 80 lionfish per hectare so it would be 80 lionfish on a soccer field and it can get up to 400. So they can become the most abundant predator in the reef."

Anton has shared her findings with the Fisheries Department. The Lionfish is indigenous to the pacific but the theory is that got into Atlantic waters when hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992 and damaged an aquarium with 6 lionfish inside which escaped into the ocean.

Channel 7

Re: Lionfish Lurks Aplenty In Belizean Waters [Re: Marty] #410655
06/26/11 09:47 AM
06/26/11 09:47 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 203
North Carolina, USA
belizelaw Offline
belizelaw  Offline
I saw a lionfish under the pier at Grand Caribe last week while I was snorkeling.

Re: Lionfish Lurks Aplenty In Belizean Waters [Re: Marty] #410660
06/26/11 09:56 AM
06/26/11 09:56 AM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 13,146
San Pedro Belize
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline
They are all good to eat ,no size limit!

White Sands Dive Shop
Re: Lionfish Lurks Aplenty In Belizean Waters [Re: Marty] #429006
01/29/12 09:33 AM
01/29/12 09:33 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 73,395
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Hunting the invasive lionfish at Long Caye

Our island is located off the coast of Belize at Glover’s Reef Atoll, a National Marine Reserve. In order to protect the marine life there, the Belize government has prohibited fishing at Glover’s reef for tourists except for sport fishing, or catch-and-release. The only exception is if you are a native and own one of the few fishing licenses issued for Glover’s Reef.

There is one other exception: lionfish — anyone can spear them because they are an invasive species from the Pacific Ocean (the Caribbean is an Atlantic sea). Lionfish are very detrimental to the native species population, and killing them is encouraged. Watch this short video of our guide, Victor Myers, spearing one.

The lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific region, have infiltrated their way into the Caribbean. Their introduction is believed to be a result of hurricanes and tank releases during the early 1990’s. They have been spotted along the eastern seaboard spanning as far north as Rhode Island to as far south as Columbia. Protected by venomous spines, lionfish are voracious predators. When hunting, they herd and corner their prey using their pectoral fins, then quickly strike and swallow their prey whole. With few known natural predators, the lionfish poses a major threat to coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean region by decreasing survival of a wide range of native reef animals via both predation and competition. While native grouper may prey on lionfish, they have been overfished and therefore unlikely to significantly reduce the effects of invasive lionfish on coral reef communities.

Help us do something about this problem! Bring your spear gun with you on one of our island trips!

Belize Blog –

Re: Lionfish Lurks Aplenty In Belizean Waters [Re: elbert] #429123
01/30/12 09:29 PM
01/30/12 09:29 PM
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1,520
PACWest, SACSouth
Bear Offline
Bear  Offline
Originally Posted by elbert
They are all good to eat ,no size limit!

thats for sure, sweet & succulent...

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