Lion fish are an invasive species with no natural predators that have invaded the Gulf of Mexico. They are prolific breeders reaching breeding age at only 3 months old. A single lion fish can produce over 2 million eggs per year. Along with this they have an insatiable appetite. They eat anything that will fit into their mouths. Juvenile snapper, grouper and many other reef species are included in their diet.
The Deepwater Mafia, Mississipi’s first and only diving and spear fishing club, have made it a top priority to help remove this nuisance from the ecosysyem. We like to use the term e-lion-ating. This means we go down to a wreck, reef, or other bottom structure and remove every lion fish that is present. That reef is then considered to be e-lion-ated and we move on to the next.
The process for e-lion-ating a reef is fairly simple. Once we are down on the reef we use a 3 foot pole spear with a barbed tip to shoot the lion fish. Then we put it into a containment device called a zookeeper. Imagine a 3 foot piece of pvc pipe about 8 inches in diamater with a funnel on one end facing inward. Once the lion fish is on the spear, it is inserted into the funnel and pushed into the zookeeper. The spear is then pulled out and the fish stays inside. This is repeated until the reef is e-lionated. On a good day with a crew of four to six guys, we can remove upwards of 500 lion fish per day from the ecosystem. This requires each diver to make anywhere from four to six dives.
So what do we do with 500+ fish with venom filled spines? Eat them of course!The meat off of a lion fish is a beautiful white meat with a very mild flavor. The average lion fish is only about 10 inches long, so they dont have a lot of meat. It takes quite a few to make a meal for a family, but they are so good and the little filets fry up nice and crispy.
Marcus “The Hitman” McDavid
Deepwater Mafia diver