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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!

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