The Issue with Lionfish


While there are a number of both exotic and endangered species of fish within the neighbouring waters of Caye Caulker, The Pterois Antennata do not receive half the same compassion. Due to their destructive nature of local species, avid fisherman seek to cull local population of Lionfish every March during the now two year running ‘Lionfish Derby’ It is an event that comes with just as much a competitive spirit as it does a principled one, though subjectively it does not seem so when there is a beautiful fish impaled on a spear. This debate is one that lends into the argument of certain species that are protected due to their commercial value to tourism and threat to humans as opposed to their contribution and place within the ecosystem.

Lionfish are fascinating animals to observe in the water, though too much intrigue will almost undoubtedly be met with much lesser a courteous introduction. Lionfish are able to produce venom that can be displayed through their needle like dorsal fins, stinging humans as well as other animals in the water. The extent of their venom can cause humans to become very ill, cause respiratory difficulties and severe nausea at the best of times. Due to this fact Lionfish are killed both recreationally and vigilantly, protecting various species of both ecologically and commercially important fish, invertebrates in reefs, mangroves and seagrass habitats. There have been cases of fatalities from Lionfish venom, although this rarity comes with the extent of exposure and stupidity of the curious swimmer.

Lionfish can reproduce from 2 to 15,000 eggs during mating, making their populace a big issue for areas affected by their veracious grazing and predatory aggression. Local restaurant’s and the like on Caye Caulker have now endorsed Lionfish on their menus in a bid to assist efforts of their growing numbers at the expense of marine life, though it does taste more like Lobster than it does a fish. Their appearance may not be relative to their taste, though the Lionfish does not have scales, has more of a rubbery than slimy texture and requires effective removal of their spines before eating.

The theme of marine conservation is one to appear frequently throughout the subject matter of this project, though the matter of Lionfish is one that presents a question to the table of both tourist and ecological justification. If the parameters of the food chain would somehow shift in the near future, exotic species being at the forefront of predatorily behaviour, would tourists come to turn their attention to their disposal or revel in their beauty?

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Camp Life


Our camp is situated on the north side of the island in a remote area of the mangroves, our only neighbours being salt water crocodiles and the expanse of marine life that visit or reside under our dock. In addition to all things to see underwater, there are just as many sights from above, replacing Pigeons with Pelicans and Helicopters for Hawks. Living is very basic on camp, so we occasionally relax on the South when we deserve a break from the sand flies and mosquitos. We don’t have access to running water or internet which is as much a blessing as it is an inconvenience, though there is some consolation waking up every morning in paradise. We have a dog, Fury, who is more like a mascot than a Pitbull Terrier, amongst our Chickens who probably make more noise and a Cockerel, Trump, who gets up extra early to rehearse his broken squawk. The mother hen has recently had a few chicks but due to nature’s cruel disposition, Trump has been denied full custody on moral grounds.

While camp life is primitive, it has made me appreciate that which I may take for granted, whilst providing an indication of the things I could probably live without. This does not apply for my latest exhibition of culinary genius, mastery of two ways to not cook rice; burnt or al dente. Another attempt came in the form of channelling my Neanderthal heritage, spearing fish from the end of the dock with a Hawaiian sling, though a lot of those residing under the boat are juveniles. The tourists that come to visit us on fishing trips and the like always have a conversation brewing; whether that be about the neighbouring mangroves or how many pull-ups they can do in front of their wives. We let them use our barbecue, lit using coconut husks that litter the surrounding trail, and in return we are left the ‘scraps’ of Lobster and various exotic fish. These kinds of visits definitely don’t go amiss especially when it’s delivered to my new address, which doesn’t have a post box but you can feed a few fish whilst you’re there.