There is so much I don’t know about Lionfish, but what I know is that they are bad for environment and they should not be here in Cayman Islands.
Many might say. What’s the problem?? Just let them live and be … Well, they eat everything that fits in their mouth. Problem with that is, that they eat all the endangered species and smaller fish so they can’t grow bigger ad produce more fish, so coral reefs are getting empty. Lionfish does not have real predators so it’s a king in the sea.
Talking about predators- Nurse sharks, eels and snappers love Lionfish, but for some strange reason they don’t hunt them. They just wait for divers to spear them and then they eat them off the spear.
Spearing is Legal in Cayman?
Yes, it is, but you need to do a course for Lionfish fishing and obtain license to spear them. Course takes a microscopic time frame to do and is fun. Practicing to spear orange or something like that. Hilarious. Then when course is done you can use spear and try to catch them, but it’s not as easy as you might imagine. Lionfish moves when you try to spear them and they also hide under ledges and it’s difficult to get close to it. The best is when you think you got them and then eel or shark appears nearby and you need to drop the bucket and spear and swim away, because if you down they will take a chunk out of your arm.
My first try on my own was interesting. I took a bucket (to store lionfish in, as its venomous to put it anywhere near my body) then started to descend. Reached about 80 ft. depth and started looking under ledges. After about 5 minutes of swim I spotted a “monster “and was ready to spear. I placed bucket on the ground and swam downwards to reach lionfish. I positioned myself, got spear close enough and then in distance my eye caught a glimpse of something moving far away. Green shadow was moving towards me and didn’t need much time to know that this is eel swimming to me. I inhaled huge breath and my body started to lift up. I was swimming away and could see eel in distance. But I didn’t want to give up. I had to get at least one. Could not return to boat empty handed.
I kept going until I saw one tiny Lionfish again. I let go of my bucket and it start sinking towards it. It saw me and hid under coral. I kept sinking towards it until I saw a shark passing under me and they like dead Lionfish a lot.
So I had to move again …
At this point I already started to believe I will never catch a lionfish myself.
I swam for about 20 minutes and already gave up. And just under the boat I spotted tiny lionfish so I went in for the kill. I fired with my spear and missed. But this lionfish did not even move. Seemed that its depressed. I went closed and tried again and again, but still missed. Then I looked at this poor little Suicidal Lionfish and decided to leave it be. Maybe it was having a really bad day. I surfaced empty handed.
Some info on Lionfish in Cayman :
“Cayman United Lionfish League, a group that educates the community about lionfish. It held its first fishing tournament in 2010, when more than 500 lionfish were caught over two days. The highest pull for a tournament — almost 1,400 fish —was recorded in December of 2012.”
Info about spear license and Lonfish itself at Department of Enviroment in Cayman islands
Papua New Guinea