Pensacola is Ground-Zero for the Lionfish Invasion in the US.
The Red Lionfish (Pterois Volitans) is a reef fish native to the Indian and South Pacific Oceans. They first arrived in South Florida in 1985. In September 2010, a single lionfish was killed by a diver in Pensacola. Five months later, a pair was spotted and killed on YDT-15. Today, it’s common to see dozens of lionfish on many of the public dive spots in our area. Because lionfish are an invasive species they have no natural predators in our area. Lionfish reproduce very quickly (every few days) and will eat anything that fits into their mouths. It is estimated that areas affected by lionfish in the Bahamas have lost an average of 65 percent of their small fish, and more than 40 percent of their larger fish like grouper and snapper. The dorsal, pectoral and anal fins of the red lionfish contain venomous spines. An envenomation is typically very painful, and can cause headaches, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Divers should be very cautious when approaching lionfish, and hunters should be especially careful handling these venomous predators.
Lionfish Hunting in Pensacola, FL
It’s easy to find lionfish to shoot in Pensacola. It’s not unusual for talented hunters to find an abundance in a single trip. Amazingly, some tournament participants have boated in excess of two-hundred lionfish in a single day! Luckily, lionfish are great to eat! From sashimi, sushi, ceviche, grilled, fried whole, baked, or broiled, lionfish is delicious! Even if you don’t want to eat your lionfish, Niuhi Dive Charters can put your fish to work for the environment. Captain Andy and his crew work closely with research professionals across the United States to ensure that they have the samples and specimens they need for ongoing scientific research.
The Lionfish Removal & Awareness Day (LRAD) is the first Saturday after Mother’s Day each year in Florida. A combination of festivals and tournaments, lionfish removal efforts take place at locations all across the State of Florida. The Lionfish Removal & Awareness Day festivals are free and include various activities including:
- Lionfish Tastings
- Fillet Demonstrations
- Family Activities
- Celebrity Chef Cook-Off Competition
- Raffles and Prizes
- Local Vendors
- Arts & Crafts
Click here for more information: Lionfish Removal & Awareness Day.
Learn to Hunt Lionfish with Ocean Strike Team
Niuhi Dive Charters is proud to partner with an amazing non-profit, Ocean Strike Team. They run eco-tourism trips to teach divers how to safely hunt lionfish in Pensacola. If you are interested in learning how to hunt for the first time, contact Niuhi or Ocean Strike Team for more information on their trips.
Emerald Coast Open Lionfish Tournament
If you would like more information on lionfish and lionfish-related events in the Pensacola area, please visit the Emerald Coast Open’s website. Niuhi Dive Charters is proud to be a founding sponsor of the Emerald Coast Open, which is comprised of concerned scientists, scuba divers, restaurant operators, and other stakeholders that work to promote awareness and help mitigate the threat that Lionfish pose to the Pensacola and Gulf Coast fisheries.