One fish you are almost certain to see when diving or snorkeling in Bahia Rincon is Pterois otherwise known as Lion Fish. Whilst these fish are beautiful to see they are also poisonous and not native to the Caribbean waters. There are several schools of thought on how they got here ranging from aquariums being damaged in Florida during Hurricane Andrew, to fish being sucked up into the sumps of ships travelling from the Indo-Pacific waters, their home area, to home tropical fish enthusiasts dropping them down their toilets after waking to find all the fish in their tanks have disappeared but their new Lionfish has suddenly grown exponentially.
Wherever they appeared from, it is now obvious that they aren`t going back. The problem is that these fish are having a seriously negative effect on the natural fish stocks and the reefs here. The only natural predators in our waters seem to be large Nassau Grouper, which have been overfished so soon may be considered endangered and moray eels, not in abundant supply here and man!
Although the fin ray spines are venomous and will cause considerable pain if touched, they are not likely to attack swimmers, snorkelers or divers, although care should be taken if you spot one. They are largely docile and quite territorial so generally can be found hanging around the same area of the reef.
Research has shown that adults breed every month and the females release two mucus-filled egg clusters frequently, which can contain as many as fifteen thousand eggs. That`s a whole lot of fish we don`t want. A study undertaken in 2010 concluded that the most effective way to even maintain current lionfish population densities, at least 27% of the invasive adult populations would have to be killed monthly. The fact that lionfish are able to reproduce monthly throughout the entire year means that this is an effort that must be maintained monthly for the maintenance of current population densities
All is not doom and gloom though as there are projects being undertaken everyday to eradicate as many of these pesky aliens as is possible. This is where man comes in. Lionfish are relatively easy to hunt and kill and their fillets make for very good eating. Many organizations, including us, run projects showing how to prepare the fish to make them safe to cook and eat and there is now a cook book you can buy with recipes devoted to lionfish. You can also join in with Lionfish safari`s and learn to catch them yourself!
So if we can`t beat `em then let`s eat `em.