Isn’t it ironic that in order to protect and preserve the reefs and the colourful marine life the Cayman Islands are famed for, we need to go out and kill the fish? Not all of them, of course. Just the lionfish.
It’s not their fault, and they are definitely some of the coolest looking fish on the reef, but they’re not playing well with the other fish.
The lionfish are gobbling up all the smaller fish at an alarming rate, and because they are newcomers to these parts, the other fish on the reef don’t recognise them as either a threat or a potential food source. So, unless we want reefs populated only by lionfish, we have to keep their numbers down, and so far the most effective way of doing that is to, well, kill them.
Different Cayman Islands Tourism Association dive operators around Grand Cayman organise lionfish culling dives every weekend so that certified divers can all do their bit to keep lionfish populations down. Thanks to the sponsorship of Foster’s Food Fair IGA, these dives are offered at extra-low rates: it’s just $10 a dive, or $20 for a two- or three-tank dive.
If you’ve got your licence to cull, or have completed the PADI lionfish specialty course, you can take one of the spears provided by dive operators and unleash your inner hunter. If you haven’t done the course though, you can still go take part in the dives by helping to spot the lionfish, or hold the container the fish get put in.
Lionfish culling dives for the rest of October
Sunday, 14 October, 1.15pm
Divetech in West Bay. Tel: 946-5658. $10
Saturday, 20 October, 7.45am
Ocean Frontiers, East End, 3-tank Lionfish Extravaganza; Tel: 947-7500. $20. Please bring a packed lunch.
Saturday, 27 October, 1.30pm
Tortuga Divers at Morritts East End. Tel: 947-2097 to register. $10.
Sunday, 28 October, 9am
Red Sail Sports at Grand Cayman Beach Suites – two-tank dive. Tel: 949-8745 to register. $20