DIVE REPORT: ANNUAL LIONFISH DERBY NETS MORE THAN 900 INVASIVE FISH IN THE FLORIDA KEYS

Lionfish is an invasive species that have a potential negative impact on native wildlife and habitat. RAY HARRINGTON/Unsplash

We had decent conditions for the 2022 Florida Keys Lionfish Derby and Festival. Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina hosted the two-day event, which saw 18 teams composed of four people remove an impressive 919 invasive lionfish. Team Forever Young came in first place with a whopping 400 lionfish shot. The goal is to eliminate as many invasive lionfish as possible in the Florida Keys waters.  

For those unaware of this pesky invasive little critter, the lionfish, here is a brief description as to why we must continue to try and control the population. The lionfish is native to the Indo-Pacific region and was introduced to the Atlantic (possibly by the aquarium trade) and is now found along the U.S. coast and in the Caribbean. And they are not welcome here.  

The lionfish’s lack of predators, voracious appetite, rapid reproduction and fast growth is a disastrous combination for our local ecosystems. They outcompete most native species for food and space. With no predators, the lionfish can take over an entire reef. That’s why we must do our part to control the population, and one way to do that is the lionfish derby. 

Team Forever Young shows off its boat full of 400 lionfish. FOREVER YOUNG CHARTERS/Via Instagram

I.CARE

Islamorada Dive Center will take out divers to outplant coral. Call 305-664-3483 to sign up. 

CONSERVATION

To limit the negative effects lionfish have on the native marine life, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation encourages divers, anglers and commercial harvesters to remove lionfish in Florida. 

WEEKEND WEATHER FORECAST

Friday – 70% chance of showers, winds out of the east, southeast, around 10 knots, 1-foot seas

Saturday – 40% chance of showers, winds out of the east, around 10 knots, 2-foot seasSunday – 40% chance of showers, winds out of the east, northeast, around 10-15 knots, 2-foot seas

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Eric Billips is is the owner, captain and instructor at Islamorada Dive Center and Floridia Keys Dive Center. He specializes in scuba, rebreather, spearfishing and captaining in the Florida Keys