Lionfish Hunting


Today was a hunting day.  I had been an observer for over a year now and a helper a few times, but this time was different – this time I had my own spear gun and I was diving only for me.  Before the dive I felt a heightened buzz, which was a result of the anticipation for embarking on something unknown.    In addition to the usual considerations when diving, such as my depth, no decompression time limit, actual bottom time and air consumption, now I will be on a mission to also discover, uncover and target the invasive Lionfish species not native to the Atlantic ocean where I dive.  I will need to travel underwater with spear and catch bag in hand taking into account my position in the water in relation to those items and any other divers and sub aquatic plants and animals.  I was so excited!

Descending along the line at the dive site “Tunnels” along the Airport Wall, I adjusted myself so I was in a comfortable and streamlined position and began to swim hard!  I knew there was a bit of a swim in 70-80ft of water towards the cliff overhangs, swim throughs, and crevices where I knew we would locate our targets.  Sure enough, our hopes were realized.  Ensuring the safety on the gun, I loaded the spear gun with two hands pulling the rubber band while holding the butt against the cummerbund of my BCD.  I released the safety and took careful aim while controlling my position in the water with precise breathing.  I pulled the trigger and scored my goal!  The bag that I borrowed is ideal for holding my catch as it has a spring handle.  With one hand I can open the bag, put the Lionfish, who is still on my spear, into the bag, close the bag and draw out my spear leaving the fish safely inside.  By tying a long rope and a small bottle to the bag, it can easily be towed behind me staying above the bottom of the ocean and avoiding any contact with me as I swim.

Paul, who was also Lionfish hunting, snared one himself only to entice an insistent Spotted Moray Eel out for lunch.  This whole component of how the bionetwork functions is so curious to me!  How is it that the eel only hunts the Lionfish once the Lionfish has been injured?   How is he not stung by the Lionfish’s venomous spines?  Either way, it certainly puts on a live National Geographic type performance for us divers as the eel gobbles the Lionfish up in one bite!

Looking forward to the Lionfish Hunt this coming Sunday!


Invasive Species Lionfish caught in Sosua, DR