Lad's blog

Ceviche Night

Images and text by Erin Spencer

Check out some of the photos from our third day on the Lionfish Control Study in Curacao! After a two tank dive in the morning (where we collected 176 lionfish), the team celebrated with a Ceviche Party at Kura Hulanda Lodge. The event was attended by trip participants, local lionfish enthusiasts, and Lodge visitors alike. 

 

Want to learn how to make your own lionfish ceviche? Check out the REEF store to purchase your very own Lionfish Cookbook

Dicing team: Trip participants spent hours dicing hundreds of fillets for the ceviche dinner. It is important to cut the fillet into small pieces so the lime juice can permeate the meat, curing it thoroughly. (Photo credit Jaclyn Gerakios)Dicing team: Trip participants spent hours dicing hundreds of fillets for the ceviche dinner. It is important to cut the fillet into small pieces so the lime juice can permeate the meat, curing it thoroughly. (Photo credit Jaclyn Gerakios)

Chef Lad: Lad Akins, one of the authors of the Lionfish Cookbook, demonstrates the proper way to prepare ceviche. The recipe calls for tomatoes, scotch bonnet peppers, onions, limes, and cilantro.Chef Lad: Lad Akins, one of the authors of the Lionfish Cookbook, demonstrates the proper way to prepare ceviche. The recipe calls for tomatoes, scotch bonnet peppers, onions, limes, and cilantro.

Trip participants: David, Luanne, and Landen are no strangers to REEF trips. Here, the family enjoys their first taste of fresh lionfish ceviche.Trip participants: David, Luanne, and Landen are no strangers to REEF trips. Here, the family enjoys their first taste of fresh lionfish ceviche.

Go West Diving: The divemasters, captains, and staff of Go West diving came out in full force for Ceviche Night. A huge thanks to Go West for all their hard work and enthusiasm throughout the week, we couldn't have done it without them! Visit them on their website: http://www.gowestdiving.com.Go West Diving: The divemasters, captains, and staff of Go West diving came out in full force for Ceviche Night. A huge thanks to Go West for all their hard work and enthusiasm throughout the week, we couldn't have done it without them! Visit them on their website: http://www.gowestdiving.com.

Sous chef: Jaclyn, a Florida teacher and trip participant, assists Lad with ceviche preparations.Sous chef: Jaclyn, a Florida teacher and trip participant, assists Lad with ceviche preparations.

Trip leaders: This is the second year that Lad Akins and Peter Hughes have teamed up for the Curacao Lionfish Study, and next year's trip is already in the works! They also lead lionfish live aboard trips in the Bahamas. For more information, visit the REEF Field Survey Trips page and http://www.reef.org/tripsTrip leaders: This is the second year that Lad Akins and Peter Hughes have teamed up for the Curacao Lionfish Study, and next year's trip is already in the works! They also lead lionfish live aboard trips in the Bahamas. For more information, visit the REEF Field Survey Trips page and http://www.reef.org/trips

Lionfish ceviche close up: Ceviche is a popular dish popular in the coastal regions of Central and South America. Acidic juices are used to cure fish while maintaining that great "raw" taste. There are many ceviche variations, but trip participants agree that lionfish ceviche is the best (not that we are biased).Lionfish ceviche close up: Ceviche is a popular dish popular in the coastal regions of Central and South America. Acidic juices are used to cure fish while maintaining that great "raw" taste. There are many ceviche variations, but trip participants agree that lionfish ceviche is the best (not that we are biased).

The Lionfish Cookbook: Want to make your very own lionfish ceviche? Check out The Lionfish Cookbook in the REEF store: http://www.reef.org/catalog/cookbookThe Lionfish Cookbook: Want to make your very own lionfish ceviche? Check out The Lionfish Cookbook in the REEF store: http://www.reef.org/catalog/cookbook

Day 2 Results

Check back daily for lionfish removal counts!

Day 2 ResultsDay 2 Results

Photo Update: Day 2

Images and text by Erin Spencer

Check out some of the photos from our second day on the Lionfish Control Study in Curacao!Lionfish mouth: A closer look at one of the many lionfish piled up in a cooler from the morning's dives. Lionfish will essentially eat anything that fits into their mouth. Imagine how many different types of prey fish this one lionfish could consume.Lionfish mouth: A closer look at one of the many lionfish piled up in a cooler from the morning's dives. Lionfish will essentially eat anything that fits into their mouth. Imagine how many different types of prey fish this one lionfish could consume.Young girl: A young girl joined us for dissections yesterday. This curious budding scientist spent about an hour observing the dissection and asking questions. We've had many visitors stop by and ask what we're up to- a wonderful opportunity to education other divers and visitors to Curacao.Young girl: A young girl joined us for dissections yesterday. This curious budding scientist spent about an hour observing the dissection and asking questions. We've had many visitors stop by and ask what we're up to- a wonderful opportunity to education other divers and visitors to Curacao.Dissection team: Our fearless dissection team. Every day after the collection dives, the group gathers to record, dissect, and fillet the fish.Dissection team: Our fearless dissection team. Every day after the collection dives, the group gathers to record, dissect, and fillet the fish.Lionfish tshirt: A fitting shirt for lionfish removal...check out the others at the REEF shop!Lionfish tshirt: A fitting shirt for lionfish removal...check out the others at the REEF shop!Large lionfish: Our largest lionfish of the day came in at 430mm, captured by Jaclyn Gerakios and Peter Hughes.Large lionfish: Our largest lionfish of the day came in at 430mm, captured by Jaclyn Gerakios and Peter Hughes.Largest lionfish: The group compares the largest and smallest lionfish of the day. All of these fish were found at the same dive site.Largest lionfish: The group compares the largest and smallest lionfish of the day. All of these fish were found at the same dive site.Lad and Peter fillets: Lad and Peter compare fillets of our largest lionfish. All the fillets were used to make a large lionfish dinner at Sol Food later that evening.Lad and Peter fillets: Lad and Peter compare fillets of our largest lionfish. All the fillets were used to make a large lionfish dinner at Sol Food later that evening.Lionfish fat: Can you guess what we're looking at? This large lionfish may have had an empty stomach, but he had very extensive fat stores. Lionfish are one of the only species we can identify as "obese"- they can eat much more than they need to survive.Lionfish fat: Can you guess what we're looking at? This large lionfish may have had an empty stomach, but he had very extensive fat stores. Lionfish are one of the only species we can identify as "obese"- they can eat much more than they need to survive.Sol Food sign: David and Sunshine were wonderful hosts at Sol Food. The cozy restaurant feels more like a friend's dinner party than a business. We were also joined by a member of the Curacao Tourist Board, who welcomed us to the island and passed out Curacao goodies- sunglasses and luggage tags.Sol Food sign: David and Sunshine were wonderful hosts at Sol Food. The cozy restaurant feels more like a friend's dinner party than a business. We were also joined by a member of the Curacao Tourist Board, who welcomed us to the island and passed out Curacao goodies- sunglasses and luggage tags.Lionfish at Sol Food: Our lionfish fish hunting was put to good use at dinner last night. Sol Food of Curacao prepared a fantastic lionfish dish, to which one of the trip participants exclaimed, "This is the best fish I've ever had". Lionfish fillets are white and flaky, and can be used in a number of different recipes.Lionfish at Sol Food: Our lionfish fish hunting was put to good use at dinner last night. Sol Food of Curacao prepared a fantastic lionfish dish, to which one of the trip participants exclaimed, "This is the best fish I've ever had". Lionfish fillets are white and flaky, and can be used in a number of different recipes.Group at Sol Food: The trip members share a relaxing evening around the table at Sol Food. The menu included salad, rice, veggies, pasta salad, and lionfish (of course).Group at Sol Food: The trip members share a relaxing evening around the table at Sol Food. The menu included salad, rice, veggies, pasta salad, and lionfish (of course).

Day 1 Results

By Erin Spencer

 

Check back daily for lionfish removal counts!

 

Day 1 resultsDay 1 results

Lionfish Crash Course

By Erin Spencer

Brush up on your lionfish facts, and stay tuned for more posts from the 2014 Lionfish Control Study in Curacao!

Lionfish in aquarium: Photo by Erin SpencerLionfish in aquarium: Photo by Erin Spencer

What are lionfish?

            Lionfish (genus Pterois) are a carnivorous, venomous fish native to the Indo-Pacific. They are known for their red, white, or cream bands, and have 18 needle-like dorsal spines that are used for defense. Although their stings are extremely painful for humans and can cause nausea and difficulty breathing, stings are rarely fatal. They can grow to about 20in in length and can live for decades. Lionfish mostly prey on small fish and invertebrates, but will eat a wide variety of prey and are highly adaptable to new environments. Due to their exotic and eye-catching appearance, they are also a popular favorite in the aquarium trade worldwide. In fact, an estimated 60,000 lionfish are imported into the United States every year to support the aquarium trade.

 

How and when did they get here?

The first lionfish sighting was in 1985 off the coast of South Florida. Scientists believe the lionfish problem began from just a few individual aquarium releases – a handful of lionfish may have been enough to spark the entire invasion. The Gulf Stream helped lionfish expand north up the east coast of the US, with summer sighting as far north as New England. Now, lionfish have spread throughout the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, with the potential to move further south into South America.

 

Why are they a problem?

With no natural predators and a voracious appetite, unchecked growth of lionfish populations could decimate numbers of native coral reef fish. Their stomachs can expand 30-fold, greatly increasing the amount of prey that can be ingested in a short period of time. One study in the Bahamas found that from 2008-2010, prey fish densities on study sites decreased an average of 65% due to lionfish predations. Some sites had as much as a 95% decrease.

 They also are breeding machines- lionfish become sexually mature within the first year of life and spawn of often as every four days throughout the year, producing over two million eggs annually. Plus, more lionfish in Atlantic waters means an increase rate of stings- something no tourist or local wants to hear. 

 

What can we do about it? 

Unfortunately, many scientists believe that complete eradication of lionfish is impossible. They can, however, be controlled. Research is being conducting all throughout the US Southern Atlantic coast and the Caribbean ocean to determine the effects of lionfish presence on the ecosystem, and what we can do about it. Many Caribbean islands have legalized spearfishing for lionfish, and you can catch lionfish without a permit in Florida. Lionfish derbies, or large fishing competitions where prizes are awarded for landing large numbers of the fish, have popped up all over Florida and the Caribbean. Also, all throughout the Caribbean and Southeastern US, chefs and restaurants are incorporating lionfish on their menus. Many believe the fastest way to decrease a fish population is for the public to develop a taste for it.

 

 

Photo update: Day 1

Check out some of the photos from our first day on the Lionfish Control Study in Curacao!Lad & Peter: Trip leaders Lad Akins and Peter Hughes demonstrating how to measure and fillet the fish. Trip participants will have the opportunity to help with this collection analysis all week.Lad & Peter: Trip leaders Lad Akins and Peter Hughes demonstrating how to measure and fillet the fish. Trip participants will have the opportunity to help with this collection analysis all week.

 Ovary: Lad pulls out a hydrated ovary. This lionfish is ready to spawn!Ovary: Lad pulls out a hydrated ovary. This lionfish is ready to spawn!

Dissecting tools: Tools sit ready and waiting for the first lionfish dissection. After the afternoon dive, which brought in 53 lionfish, Lad Akins gave a demonstration how to fillet and dissect lionfish. The dissections included stomach content analysis, sexing the lionfish, and removing the otoliths.Dissecting tools: Tools sit ready and waiting for the first lionfish dissection. After the afternoon dive, which brought in 53 lionfish, Lad Akins gave a demonstration how to fillet and dissect lionfish. The dissections included stomach content analysis, sexing the lionfish, and removing the otoliths.Dissection group: Trip participants smile for a group photo around the dissection table. There was an assembly line: three people measured the lengths, one recorded results, and three filleted the fish for tomorrow's dinner.Dissection group: Trip participants smile for a group photo around the dissection table. There was an assembly line: three people measured the lengths, one recorded results, and three filleted the fish for tomorrow's dinner.

Lionfish Control Study in Curacao Begins

Lionfish in Curacao have a rough week ahead of them.

 

Sunday, aspiring lionfish hunters and ocean enthusiasts from around the world arrived in Curacao, an island in the Southern Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. They will spend the next week removing lionfish, gathering data, and learning as much as they can about the invasive predator.

 

The trip, led by Lad Akins and Peter Hughes of REEF, is in its second year. In 2013, 673 lionfish were removed in just five days of diving. The project documents the establishment and consequences of lionfish as part of REEF’s ongoing effort to minimize the invasive predator’s impact on native fish populations.

 

Lionfish have been present in Curacao since 2009, almost 25 years after they were introduced off the coast of South Florida in 1985. Originally from the Indo-Pacific region, lionfish are now established in the Western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean, and are considered one of the top threats to our native reef ecosystem. For more information about lionfish, check out our upcoming blog post, or visit REEF's Lionfish Resources page.

 

Trip participants include both rookie and seasoned lionfish hunters. All participants have the opportunity to be trained in lionfish collection and dissections of specimens to document prey, all while hosted by the gorgeous Kura Hulanda Lodge & Beach Club. The trip is generously supported by Go West Diving, Insel Air, and the Curacao Tourist Board. 

 

 

We will be documenting the trip with blog posts, photographs, and videos. Check back daily for updates on the trip and other articles about lionfish, Curacao, and more. You can also follow along on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #REEFcuracao, or on Facebook at REEF Invasive Lionfish Program.  

Testing LF blog

Testing aug 2014

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