I love lion fish!.. especially when they’re accompanied by four different wines and served in several different ways from sashimi through to BBQ. Ok, well the forth wine didn’t accompany anything, being a desert wine but hey, lion fish do officially taste great!
So, I came to St Lucia in the Caribbean on a coral spawning assignment – In fact i’m still here & the coral spawning is still yet to happen – I’m just waiting for nature to do its thing and the moon to sort itself out (which I’m told matters too). In the meantime I found myself and coral spawning photo model Ana involved in a lion fish tasting evening on a beach.
It’s reasonably common knowledge (I think) that the southern US of A and Caribbean have, over the last decade or so seen lion fish start buying up prime “real estate” (or “property” to you and I) like hotels on a Monopoly board. We are of course use to seeing these guys in abundance throughout the Red Sea and South East Asia and indeed enjoy their company, but apparently they’re not welcome here – at all.
To get around the problem of these prolific breeders eating every juvenile fish in sight, local dive centres have set up “lion fish spearing speciality courses” in order to control the problem, alongside a lion fish tasting menu (cleverly disguised as a wine tasting evening). Which is great… however! Being an inquisitive character, I can’t help but ask – “so what if lion fish have found their way to this new habitat”? “So what would really happen if they made this place a permanent residence”? “Would things be so bad for their new reefy neighbours”? Who really knows?
As far as I know, lion fish have no natural predictors in their adult life anywhere in the world, but what sits above them in the food chain before that time of their lives comes and why don’t they have any prey in this part of the world?
I’ve dived several sites here in St Lucia over the past few days and have seen just five or six lion fish at most – that said, i’m told by locals that if they’re left unchecked then they’ll breed like mad and be all over the reef like a cheap suit, dramatically affecting the balance of normal reef life.
The question is then – however these beautiful creatures were introduced to this part of the worlds seas & oceans (and nobody really knows how they got here) – should they be left to continue living within their “new” environment? Or, should we be removing them to keep maintain “normal” reef life?