As part of its 2017 Lionfish Derby Series across the state of Florida, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation will be sponsoring a one-day derby on Saturday, July 29, at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, located at mile marker 102.5 in Key Largo.
REEF is partnering with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the dive community to provide hands-on opportunities to take action and remove the invasive species.
During the derby, divers can vie for more than US$3,500 in prize money. Teams with the largest captured catch are rewarded for the most lionfish, the largest and smallest.
Teams of up to four people can hunt from sunrise to 5 p.m., collecting lionfish by netting or spearing while on scuba, snorkeling or free diving. Participants can dive from a private vessel or with a professional dive operator.
The public will be able to watch Saturday’s derby scoring and awards ceremony as well as lionfish filleting demonstrations. Other attractions include free tastings and a raffle set from 6 to 6:30 p.m.
The early registration fee is US$120 and includes one pair of puncture-resistant gloves per team. Late team registration is open from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 28, followed by a mandatory participants’ meeting to cover lionfish ecology, their safe handling, collecting tools and techniques.
For more info, go to the reef.org website.