REEF Lionfish Derby in Florida Keys Set for March 12
| February 11, 2016
Key Largo, Fla. – On March 12th, divers and snorkelers in the Upper Keys will compete in the Fourth Annual REEF Winter Lionfish Derby to remove as many lionfish as possible in a single day. The teams who bring in the most lionfish, the biggest lionfish, and the smallest lionfish will be rewarded with cash prizes!

Invasive lionfish are voracious predators from the Indo-Pacific that threaten Florida's marine ecosystems. More than 100 species of native fish and invertebrates have been found in lionfish stomachs at very high volumes. Defended from predators by 18 venomous spines, lionfish rule the reefs and reproduce as often as every four days, year round. Though lionfish may seem unstoppable, local control is proving to be highly successful and divers can significantly reduce local populations with regular removals.

Hopes are high for the derby, organized by Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). Divers removed 99 lionfish in a single day during the Third Annual Winter Lionfish Derby in February 2015. Since the beginning of REEF's lionfish derby program in 2009, teams have removed more than 16,100 lionfish from South Florida waters.

All are invited to compete and participate in the festivities at Postcard Inn at Holiday Isle. Team captains must attend the Captains Meeting on Friday, March 11th at 6:30pm at Postcard Inn; however all derby participants are strongly encouraged to attend. Teams may pre-register online or register in person on March 11th at 5:30pm, prior to the Captain's Meeting.

The competition begins at sunrise on March 12th, with all lionfish due at the scoring station at Postcard Inn by 5pm. The public is invited to attend the derby, which will feature free lionfish ceviche samples, educational demonstrations, and opportunities to talk to lionfish experts. Derby sponsors include the Postcard Inn at Holiday Isle, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Divers Direct, and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. To register for the Winter Lionfish Derby or find out more, visit www.REEF.org/lionfish/derbies.

About REEF
Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1993 that seeks to conserve marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting, and enabling divers and marine enthusiasts to become active ocean stewards and citizen scientists. REEF membership is free and totals more than 60,000 individuals worldwide, who protect marine life through education, service, and research.

Source: REEF

 

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