The 10th annual Green Turtle Cay Lionfish Derby successfully took place at the end of June at the Green Turtle Club.
A collaborative effort between Friends of the Environment (FRIENDS), local divers, Brendal’s Dive Center and Green Turtle Club, resulted in 727 lionfish being removed from our waters. This event was first started in 2008 by Green Turtle Cay second home owners and Palm Beach residents Bobbie Lindsay and Chris Berdett in partnership with Brendals Dive Center and The Green Turtle Club, and has been successful in removing thousands of this highly invasive species since.
Native to the Pacific Ocean, lionfish are considered an invasive species in the Atlantic. As an invasive species, they are known to reproduce rapidly and abundantly, outgrowing native species who they compete with for space and other resources. They are also known to consume large quantities of prey, even fish nearly the same size as them. Lionfish have no natural predators in the Atlantic, making events like lionfish derbies essential to their removal. Once their venomous spines are carefully removed during cleaning, their flaky filet makes for a delicious meal, which participants and others attending the lionfish derby can attest to!
Coming in first place with the most lionfish was ‘Spearbender’ from Green Turtle Cay, catching 300 lionfish. The smallest lionfish, at 3.6cm, was also caught by ‘Spearbender.’ The prize for the largest was won by ‘Lil’ Big Fish’ (also of Green Turtle Cay), measuring at a whopping 33.6cm! Participants got to enjoy their catch as the fish were cleaned and cooked right near the weigh-in station. Later, they returned for an awards banquet and dinner at the Green Turtle Club, a great ending to a wonderful day.
The Lionfish Derby was started with the goal to raise awareness about the importance of removing this invasive species from Bahamian waters and encourage divers to spear a lionfish if they saw one. FRIENDS, as host of the derby, feels that their collaborative efforts with the Abaco community has led to this goal being met, and after the 10th successful year are ready to pass on the torch to the community entirely. Though labeled the “10th and Out” lionfish derby by FRIENDS, they are certain that the community will keep the tradition alive. Since 2008, these derbies have removed over 9,977 lionfish from our waters, and the hope is for divers to add to that number on a regular basis.
This event has been successful because of all who put in their time, effort and donations over the past 10 years. A special thank you to their Palm Beach supporters, the community and second home owners of Green Turtle Cay, Brendal’s Dive Shop, The Green Turtle Club, Lad Akins with REEF, the local fishermen and visitors who participated, and all of the volunteers who supported this event.