Aside from the token confetti of colorful reef fish on the Belize Barrier Reef, one exotic beauty that packs a deadly punch is the Lionfish. First discovered off South Florida in the mid-1980s, the invasive lionfish have spread to South America, throughout the Caribbean, into the Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic coast to North Carolina. However, lionfish are reef fish, which means they can’t be caught via hook or net. This makes them ideal game for divers wielding spear guns, adding a eco-friendly punch of adrenaline to any Belize vacation. Armed with a Zookeeper ™ and spear in hand, grab your fins with Splash Dive Center! After all, lionfish hunting is guaranteed to add adrenaline to any Belize vacation.
The Threat of Lionfish in Belize
Lionfish have a ferocious appetite—their stomachs can expand to 30 times their natural size—gobbling up tiny grouper, snapper and other native species. Not to mention, they have no known predators in the Caribbean. And in ideal conditions, an adult female can release from 30,000 to 90,000 eggs every four days, all year long. That’s why it’s up to us to beat this invasive species. As Oceana Belize would say in Creole, “To beat they, yuh have to eat they!” Lionfish have venomous spines, which can be easily removed before cooking; if stung, humans can experience discomfort and a burning sensation. If left unchecked, lionfish can take over a reef. Luckily, lionfish are a delicious white meat fish – though its venomous, the flesh itself poses no risk at all.
Why Hunt Lionfish in Belize
Besides lightening your travel footprint, Belize offers spectacular underwater marvels within its 185-mile barrier reef. After all, choosing Belize to hunt lionfish also means the quality of the dive destination is a factor. After all, dive operators in the Caribbean, much like eco-conscious Splash Dive Center, have utilized their visitors for a double win; a punch of adrenaline to your vacation, while squashing invasive threats to the Belize Barrier Reef.
Placencia is a small coastal village along Belize’s southern coast, where Splash Dive Center operates as the largest operator in the South. Though if you’ve never speared—or dived—then don’t worry. Splash teaches PADI courses to divers of all levels, as well as offering diving and snorkeling tours to islands and reefs throughout the area. The staff, including owner Patty Ramirez, are patient and professional, making them suitable for first-time divers and experts alike.
Regardless of how many lionfish you were able to spear, one less in the Belize Barrier Reef is a win for all. And did we mention they’re delicious? On the contrary to its poisonous tag, it is completely safe to eat. Simply remove its spines, filet, and you have yourself a prime cut of a firm, mild white fish. While in Placencia, stop by for Kaj at the Treasure Box jewelry store to see these venomous fins transform into incredible lionfish jewelry. In Belize, lion fish are the only species that regulations allow to be taken with spearguns, with the spear guns meeting specific specifications set by the Fisheries Department. However, Splash Dive Center have these available for guests.
Interested in adding a little adrenaline to your Belize vacation with a Lionfish Hunting Safari? Contact Splash Dive Center here.