The hunters will become the hunted, after sunset this evening.
As those voracious reef predators, the lionfish, emerge from their hidey holes after dark to roam the reefs, gobbling up as many smaller fish as they can, teams of divers will be hot on their tails, spears in hand.
The Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s “24 Hours of Lionfish Culling” begins at 5pm today, Friday 26 April, giving lionfish cullers a chance to hunt both at night and in daylight the following day.
The tournament is sponsored by Fosters and different water sports operators have teamed up with restaurants serving lionfish, so that the majority of the catch can be donated to the restaurants.
Culling teams are six-strong, and in addition to a night dive they will do two to three dives the following day. The dive shops will be providing free tanks and weights to all cullers, with some running a three-tank dive safari on the Saturday.
Divetech, Red Sail Sports, Ocean Frontiers and Tortuga Divers all have teams registered and ready to go.
At the conclusion of the 24 hours of culling, the lionfish will be weighed, information collected for the Department of Environment and the total catch will be split, with 25 per cent of it going to Foster’s Food Fair so that they can continue to sell lionfish in their stores. The remainder will go to the restaurants that have partnered with the water sports operators. These include Rum Point Restaurant, Tukka, Cobalt Coast, The Greenhouse Cafe, Guy Harvey’s, the Brasserie and Abacus – so if you feel like feasting on fresh lionfish this weekend, you know where to go.
Cullers who have not yet signed up but have a team of six may still be able to register with a participating dive operator.