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Marine Sanctuaries Protected by Team Swish Lionfish Hunting

General, Eco Tips and Environmentswishreboot@solomongiles.comComment

Hello everyone! Today is monumental in this blog! For the first time ever, I have a guest blogger, making this the first official joint Swish Life blog! About time, you guys were getting a bit sick of me, yeah?

The CEO of Swish Suits, Chelsea Berg, recently went to Roatan, Honduras for a swishy vacay.

Chelsea Berg did her divemasters in Roatan five years ago.  Chelsea's good friend Kate Waterburton joined her, heading up to Honduras from Bogota. Kate currently works for the BBC as a journalist, but used to live in Roatan for years and owned a great cafe on beach there! The girls have many fond memories of the rural island, including running about shoeless, scootering around, and diving.

Chelsea Berg and Kate in their Swish Suits

Once in Honduras, the girls met up with Chelsea's old divemaster instructor and a good friend of Swish's, Martin Cabrera Deheza.

Lionfish Hunting

 

 

Roatan is part of the Bay islands located off of Honduras.  It is a diver's paradise as it boasts the second largest reef in the world which is a host to various marine life.

marine sanctuaries in roatan

 

 

However; biodiversity in this region, even in marine sanctuaries, is being threaten by the invasion of the lionfish species. And without further ado, I introduce my guest blogger of the week. . . . Martin who is going to tell you a bit of history about the lionfish in Mesoamerica!

protecting marine sanctuaries, martine and kate

 

Fearless lionfish hunter Martin, with the gorgeous Kate rocking the Swish womens shorty wetsuit.

"6 lionfish were first introduced into the Atlantic from Biscayne Bay, Florida in 1992 following hurricane Andrew. Genetic analysis reveals that all lionfish in the Caribbean have likely originated from this source.

lionfish, scourge to marine sanctuaries everywhere

Slowly spreading throughout the greater Caribbean over the course of the years, the lionfish has officially reached the Bay Islands and the local marine sanctuaries. On May 22nd, a local dive shop reported the capture of an 8 inch specimen in 21ft of water, inside the barrier reef about 200m from shore, near Punta Gorda.

It appears that the lionfish are here to stay and all we can do to control their numbers is continue to actively hunt them on dives and while snorkeling. The Roatan Marine Park has over 100 official spears distributed throughout the diving community to protect the marine sanctuary.

The Lionfish invasion is so destructive because they eat everything in sight and have very few predators, leaving only humans to control their population. The other option to reduce the number of lionfish is to create a demand for them at the dinner table.

In their native waters Lionfish reproduce once per year, but with the consistent warm temperatures of the Caribbean they reproduce monthly. Gelatinous egg masses float to the surface and planktonic larvae drift for up to 40 days before settling, allowing for wide-range distribution by ocean winds and currents.

They are suction feeders that consume their prey whole and are capable of eating creatures up to half their own body size. The population densities in non-native waters have been found to be as much as 15 times higher than in their native waters. Studies of lionfish on experimental reefs in the Bahamas have shown a reduction in the recruitment of coral reef fishes by nearly 80 percent.

Lionfish are tasty, with white, delicate, and flakey meat. They are a perfect substitute for grouper and are a completely sustainable and guilt-free fish to eat.

There are even Lionfish cookbooks, containing recipes to use the meat in every conceivable way. Most of the recipes can also be found free online. Perhaps the most tasty and popular dish is lionfish ceviche. Other popular ways to cook lionfish include sautéing with garlic and butter or frying. Some people even use it in sushi. So do your part to protect the Mesoamerican reef and marine sanctuaries by eating lionfish..."

~Martin Cabrera Deheza, exerted from Roatan Marine Park's Guide, 2009.

During their trip, Kate and Chelsea took part in a lionfish hunt. The girls went out with Martin and bagged some of the fish.

Marine Sanctuary Protected

Have you taken part in a lionfish hunt? Do you particpated in conserving your local marine sanctuaries? Tell us about it!