We're gearing up for summer, and that means Lionfish Derby season is here! We're excited to share that registration is now open for the 2023 REEF Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival on Sept. 7-10. The event includes two full days of lionfish hunting, followed by a lionfish festival at Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina in Islamorada, Florida. The family-friendly festival takes place on Sunday, Sept. 10 and includes lionfish scoring, tastings, educational demos, games, crafts, raffles, and activity booths from arts and conservation vendors. Everyone is invited to attend the festival, and teams of 2-4 people may register to compete in the derby. For more information or to register a team, visit www.REEF.org/derby.
Lionfish Derbies are effective at removing many lionfish in a short period of time, however regularly removing lionfish from local reefs can also help protect native fish species and maintain a balanced ecosystem. To support ongoing lionfish removals we recently kicked off the Florida Keys Lionfish Sweeps. During the months of the Lionfish Sweeps (April 1-June 30), divers and snorkelers can remove invasive lionfish from Florida Keys waters for a chance to win cash and raffle prizes. Participants may drop off lionfish at the REEF Campus during business hours, and all donated lionfish will be used for REEF Ocean Explorers Education Programs. We're updating our Lionfish Sweeps leaderboard periodically, so be sure to follow along on Facebook (REEF Invasive Lionfish Program) to see who's in the lead! Final results will be announced at the annual Rockin' the Dock event held at Sharkey's Sharkbite Grille this July in Key Largo, Florida. For more info, visit this page.
New to Lionfish Derbies? A REEF Lionfish Derby is a competition where teams of divers and snorkelers compete to collect as many invasive lionfish as possible. Teams collect lionfish by netting or spearing while SCUBA diving, free diving, or snorkeling. Each fish is measured, and prizes are awarded to teams who collect the most, biggest, and smallest lionfish. The public is invited to watch scoring, taste free lionfish samples, watch filleting and dissection demonstrations, and ask questions about lionfish. REEF Lionfish Derbies educate the public about invasive species, gather important scientific information on lionfish populations, and promote a consumer market for lionfish. 2023 marks the 14th year of REEF Lionfish Derbies in the Upper Florida Keys.