…because a dead lionfish is a good lionfish
The annual lobster and lionfish tournament hosted by Tilden’s Dive Shop netted $5,300 for Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys during the two-day event held over lobster mini season. Ninety participants weighed in lobster and 342 invasive lionfish. Donated lionfish were given to Lazy Days in Marathon, a local restaurant helping control the lionfish population by having the tasty invasive fish on its menu.
— Weekly Staff report
FWC Researcher Meaghan Faletti measures and collects stomach content data on the lionfish, paying particular notice to the variations in Gulfside and Oceanside catches.
The tournament has special significance for Jim and Cathy McCoy. Cathy, a bone cancer survivor, has been a beneficiary of the event’s charitable earnings. She wasn’t able to make it to the weigh-in last year, but is feeling great these days and said she wasn’t going to miss it this year as, “this community is so amazing.”
Tilden’s owner Wendy Hall hands Sanctuary Friends Board President George Neugent a check for $5,300 raised during from the tournament.
Hall and Kylee Vondra tally scores as participants weigh-in their dinner.
Marathon’s Chase Leird and Tommy Norris weigh in their lobsters for the kid’s division.
FWC biologist Mike McCallister is one of two officials at the event. Dan Ellinor, the commercial liaison for FWC’s marine fisheries management division, surveys the day’s catch.
Kyle Freeman, left, places second and third place in the men’s division, Brandon Freeman Is the grand prize winner, Colin Haley Is the funky bunch winner with a slipper and spotted lobster and Alec Getman Is the men’s first place winner.
Misty Matthews, of Lake Placid, wins women’s first place with 58 tiny lionfish caught on a sunken sailboat in 12 feet of water. She tries to go lionfishing everyday while in the Keys each summer for a month because she loves the way they taste. “There was a cloud of lionfish swarming the boat,” she said. She was rewarded with a boatload of gear from Tilden’s.