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Protecting Coral Reefs from Lion Fish–Marine life Awareness, Florida Keys

By September 26, 2016 September 27th, 2016 Florida Keys

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We are diving in shallow water near Islamorada when we discover a small, unprotected reef where lion fish live.  I take photographs while my son spear fishes.  At first, one might observe that lion fish are pretty fish.  But, they are an invasive species, and destructive to our coral reefs where they have no natural predators.  Lion fish were imported for the aquarium trade, from the Indo-Pacific, before they escaped to multiply throughout the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Atlantic waters to North Carolina. Now, it is illegal to import live lion fish.  Because lion fish are highly prolific, and they eat reef-friendly fish that clean and protect coral reefs, their presence is catastrophic to a healthy reef system.  What can we do to help?  Some restaurants put lion fish on their menus.  Or, people who know how to safely handle lion fish can capture, clean, cook, and eat them at home.  Many lion fish are captured by spearfishing, but their spines are toxic and the sting is painful, so divers have to be careful when they handle and clean them.  With this global photo story, I salute divers who learn to safely spearfish for lion fish and use their skills to protect our coral reefs.