The Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s new “Cull-inary” weekends are providing a fresh take on controlling the invasive lionfish population in Little Cayman’s waters.

CCMI education manager Tom Sparke captures a lionfish off Little Cayman.
CCMI education manager Tom Sparke captures a lionfish off Little Cayman.

Participants will dive with CCMI scientists on lionfish culls, gain insight into the science behind the problem fish, and over the weekend enjoy the catch prepared in a variety of delicious ways.

The weekend packages, which include a Friday-Monday round-trip fare from Grand Cayman, as well as all food, diving and accommodations, also include a lionfish culling licensing course for those who need a license.

“This event came about when we were looking at world oceans day in June and what we, as CCMI, could do over and above the work we currently do as a research station,” said the institute’s operations director, Peter Quilliam.

“We wanted to involve the community and also have some fun, while at the same time [incorporating] some serious research. It was a big ask, but the logical activity was lionfish culling,” he said.

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“We created the ‘Cull-inary’ weekends where we can remove a lot of lionfish from areas we don’t normally focus on around the island, involve more of the general public in the research discoveries we are making, and then we want to showcase the culinary aspect of these fish as well,” he said. “Our lionfish scientist, Alli Candelmo, creates a hot lionfish dip that is so good it has to be eaten to be believed!”

Mr. Quilliam noted that CCMI has rented all of Little Cayman’s Sunset Cove resort for the summer, so the institute can host the groups from there.

“Accommodations include twin share rooms, the run of the resort, and we might even be able to run sunset cruises as well,” said Mr. Quilliam.

“Our focus for this program is to have fun, but also, on the serious side, [to highlight] the importance of eradicating this invasive species. It is also a great way to introduce people to the research work we are doing, all while we feast on the fish we have caught that day.”

Mr. Quilliam said the plan is to do four dives over the weekend with cook-ups each evening. He noted that spaces are limited, so interested participants are encouraged to book as early as possible to reserve their spot.

For more information, call Peter Quilliam on 948-1094 or send an email to [email protected]

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