March 26, 2009.
Today we moved the boat about 5 miles from Raccoon Cay to Buena Vista. The wind was down under 20 knots so we decided to make the move. We were planning to head to Flamingo Cay tomorrow once the sea state has had a chance to lay down a bit but that plan changed after spending the day here.
We spent the extra day at Buena Vista in the water, what else, looking for lobster. Norm took a lobster and a grouper while I took a lobster and a pair of hogfish, one of which was pretty big.
Since we’ve been here and have been having such good luck with our hunting I’ve decided to give something back to the environment. I’ve recently started the wholesale slaughter of Lionfish.
The Lionfish is an invasive species. Its not found naturally here in the Bahamas and has no enemies in this area. It eats the young of the normal reef dwellers that belong here; everything including lobsters and grouper. They’ve become so common that you see them pretty much everywhere; almost every reef has one or two.
They’re a very docile fish that just hovers in one spot. There basically brown and white and surrounded by a beautiful, protective, poisoness “plumage”. It has no enemies so it doesn’t flee from fish or man. They often hide in the holes that usually yield lobster so it’s not uncommon to put your face up to a hole and come face to face with a Lionfish. They have a very painful, venomous sting that could prove fatal.
On our way down through the Jumentos we ran into an Englishman that had been stung on the hand. His hand had swollen to twice its normal size and was ridiculously painful. It took several days for the pain to subside and there was still considerable swelling.
The Bahamians realize that there’s an issue but have no official plan on dealing with the problem. They do however encourage you to kill as many as you would like. So I’ve decided to do my share.
The technique is pretty basic with one notable exception. Before I shoot them I unscrew the barbed tip from my spear. The threaded rod at the end of the spear still makes great penetration and leaves a nice clean hole. This way, I can just withdraw the spear from the fish after the shot. They’re actually a pretty delicate fish and while using this technique might enable tougher fish to get away; the lionfish is pretty much devastated from the blow.
After the kill I just surface and give them a good fling, kinda like Lionfish Lacrosse. Barracuda are usually hanging around and even the most evil looking of them turn and head away when offered a newly killed Lionfish.
Speaking of Barracuda, I was shadowed by a huge one for a while today. He was every bit of 6 feet long and thicker than my thigh. He had a 3 foot piece of monofilament trailing from his mouth. I’m sure whoever caught him, took one look, said f**k the lure and cut him loose. I gave Christy the Barracuda signal and she chased and harassed him with the dinghy until he disappeared.