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Under Invasion!

The waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean are under invasion by an enchanting, but deadly fish. The elegant lionfish, native of the Indo-Pacific, is a predatory reef fish originally brought to the Americas as an intriguing specimen to feature in local aquariums. Scientists are not exactly sure how the first release of Lionfish made it into the Florida waters, but they are certain that it began with only a handful of fish. Having no natrual predators in that region, the lionfish population flourished.

 The lionfish are threatening the existence of many native fish species and disrupting the local food chains. According to the National Center for Coastal Ocean Science, these fish are considered a biological pollutant, capable of having similar impacts to coastal ecosystems as chemical pollutants. Such invasive species threaten nearly half of the species protected under the Endangered Species Act. As a result, many dive centers along the coasts of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico organize regular lionfish hunts, in the hopes of protecting the natural habitat from the devasting effects of this invasive species.

Recently, several dive centers in Guatemala City united to host the fourth LionFish Hunt in two years, off the coast of Amatique Bay. Divers from all over the country come together to participate. Most hunts in this region catch an average of 120 - 130 fish in just a few hours. Fortunately, the poisonous spines are rendered harmless thirty minutes after the fish is dead. Therefore, locals have learned how to clean and prepare the lionfish to make a most delicious ceviche and fried dish. 

Interested in participating? Contact any of the dive shops in Guatemala for more information.

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