Divers protect over 1 million fish from invasive lionfish
Divers removed 1,079 invasive lionfish from the Gulf of Mexico, saving an estimated total of at least 1.6 million fish from the invasive predator during the fourth annual Sarasota Lionfish Derby, which concluded July 9 at Mote Marine Laboratory.
The Sarasota, Florida-based derby was a partnership effort among Mote, a world-class marine science institution, and Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), which helps study and address the lionfish invasion, sanctions official lionfish derbies, and provided the estimate of the Sarasota derby's benefit to fish. This was the first derby in the 2017 Summer Lionfish Derby Series coordinated by REEF. Three upcoming derbies are accepting registrations at: www.reef.org/lionfish/derbies.
The Sarasota derby from July 7-9 drew 14 teams, more than double last year’s six teams. Team divers vied to catch the most lionfish, the largest lionfish and the smallest lionfish in Gulf of Mexico waters ranging from Collier to Escambia County.