Key Largo, Florida – June 16th, 2016
This summer, Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) will be hosting their 8th Annual Summer Lionfish Derby Series. Lionfish Derbies are competitions where divers and snorkelers compete to bring in the most lionfish in a single day for over $3,500 in cash prizes. Since the first derby in 2009, REEF has facilitated the removal of over 16 thousand lionfish from all around South Florida.
Invasive lionfish, originally from the Indo-Pacific, are voracious predators that are threatening Florida’s marine ecosystem health by devouring over 120 species of native fish and invertebrates. First sighted in 1985, invasive lionfish populations have exploded and can be found as far north as North Carolina and as far south as Brazil. With 18 venomous spines to defend themselves and a predation style unknown to our native prey fish, lionfish have taken over our reefs. Thankfully, divers can significantly reduce local populations through large removal events such as REEF Lionfish Derbies.
REEF has set the following dates for the 2016 Lionfish Derby Series:
- July 8th-10th: First Annual Sarasota Derby
- July 15th-16th: Fort Lauderdale Derby
- August 12th-14th: Palm Beach County Derby
- September 9th-10th: Upper Keys Derby
This year, we are excited to be adding a fourth derby to the series in Sarasota, partnering with Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium and ZooKeeper LLC. We are also partnering with Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach to make this year’s Palm Beach County Derby a full-on lionfish festival including REEF’s first lionfish culinary competition! Derbies are free and open to the public. Educational demonstrations and free lionfish tastings are made available to all.
This series was funded in part by a grant awarded from Mote Marine Laboratory’s Protect Our Reefs Grants Program, which is funded by proceeds from the sale of the Protect Our Reefs specialty license plate. Learn more about the Protect Our Reefs program at www.mote.org/4reef. REEF’s Lionfish Derby Series is also sponsored by Zookeeper LLC, Diver’s Direct, Ocean Reef Conservation Commission and FWC.
REEF is widely recognized as a leading authority in lionfish research, removal practices and educational outreach. REEF partners with scientists and government agencies to conduct lionfish research and engage stakeholders in removals. These activities are integral to local, national and international plans and strategies addressing the invasion. For more info, visit www.REEF.org/lionfish.
News from Reef Environmental Education Foundation
CONTACT: Emily Stokes
REEF Lionfish Program Assistant