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Islamorada Dive Center Owner Eric Billips Killed Thousands of Lionfish

Six years ago, Eric Billips, the owner of the Islamorada Dive Center in the Florida Keys, speared his initial lionfish. Since then, thousands of the invasive, venomous predators have been killed by him. He has taken life of many invasive, venomous predators as numbers of them exploded across the western Atlantic and Caribbean.

A fisherman informed Billips that he caught a couple of lionfish on his hook and line and he also directs Billips so that he can easily locate the area.

After this, Billips started shooting and his weapon was equipped with a three-pronged trident tip which impales every lionfish. After sometime, Billips and his fellow diver resurfaced, grinning and breathless. They slid their containers onto the boat, and every container was filled with over a fat, full-grown lionfish. Two more divers started hunting and after a short time they came out with their own bounties.

Back in 1985, Lionfish was first spotted off Dania Beach, Florida. The fish belongs to the Red Sea and the tropical Pacific, and it was introduced to the western Atlantic by people who allow their aquarium fish go in the ocean.

The first outsider finfish to set up a sizeable population in the waters off the US are two species of lionfish, Pterois volitans and Pterois. Now, they can be found in an area that covers more than 1.5 million square miles in the western Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Lionfish consumes anything smaller than them, involving valuable species such as red porgy, vermilion snapper, Nassau grouper and fish that eat algae off reefs and keep them healthy. It was found that killing between 75% and 95% of lionfish off reefs in the Bahamas was sufficient in order to help populations of local fish rebound.

“It is quite alarming that a small population of lionfish can literally consume millions of prey over the course of the year, so that is one of the reasons we are very focused on control”, said James Morris, a leading lionfish researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


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