This Week’s Dive Report

Once again, conditions were very favorable. We had light winds and plenty of sunshine. These are the perfect times to go out and enjoy our Keys waters, and we’re so glad so many of you do! 

We had “Scuba World” dive shop from Delaware out with us, and they helped us with our invasive lionfish problem. They removed over 50 lionfish over their week of diving with us. Thank you for helping our reefs! We appreciate you so much!

To catch a lionfish, we most often use a pole spear and a Zookeeper. These two items help us to catch the invasive species without touching its venomous spines and then to contain it for a safe ascent to the boat. Many local dive shops will hold lionfish eradication dives, and local nonprofits sometimes host educational workshops to teach best hunting techniques. 

It definitely takes practice and patience. Good buoyancy also helps a lot so that you’re not bouncing around on the reef while you’re out hunting. 

Next Week’s Dive Report

The winds pick up over the weekend, and we’re keeping our eye on Fred, the storm brewing. No word yet, but it’s always good to be prepared. As we know, summer brings either flat calm seas or you-know-what season. 

Lionfish hunting is a fun way to protect our waters from invasive species. ERIC BILLIPS/Contributed

Conservation Update

Invasive species like lionfish wreak havoc on endemic species. Because they do not naturally live on the Florida Reef Tract, lionfish have no natural predators to keep their populations in check. Unfortunately, they also have a ravenous appetite and are known to eat all the tiny benthic fish and marine invertebrates that a reef needs to stay in balance. They can clear a reef head of life in a matter of days or weeks. 

Lionfish also grow quickly and produce thousands of eggs at a time. These can float on ocean currents and distribute widely. Because of this and because they can live in shallow and deep water, it is unlikely that we will ever have the lionfish invasion fully under control. 

Scientists and conservationists do take effective action against them by hunting lionfish whenever they see them. Reef Environmental Education Foundation hosts annual Lionfish Derbies, which bring together many people for the purpose of eradicating lionfish. The next one is in September. 

Conservation Tip

Invasive species like the lionfish can wreak havoc upon our ecosystems.  Look into a “Lionfish eradication” dive at one of our local dive shops to help out.

I.CARE Tip

I.CARE coral plantings are still going strong and will take place at Key Dives this weekend, weather permitting. 

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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