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Take part in an underwater lion hunt

23rd July 2012 Print
Lionfish - credit Iain Paul

Bonaire dive centre, Buddy Dive, has announced that its PADI Lionfish Hunter Speciality Certificate is gaining popularity and Regaldive is offering the opportunity to take part in this unusual but important course.

Since Hurricane Andrew destroyed an aquarium in Miami 20 years ago, the six breeding pairs of lionfish that escaped have colonized everywhere from Rhode Island to Venezuela. They have caused particular damage to the reefs of the Caribbean, feeding off the native species that keep the build-up of algae in check. Dive centres have launched a crusade against these stripped predators by encouraging divers to remove them one-by-one and PADI is leading the charge with this course.

The one day course is suitable for anyone with their basic PADI Open Water qualification. It starts out with a brief classroom session in which divers learn about the history of the lionfish invasion and the impact it has had on the reef system and fish populations.  Students are then taught about hunting techniques and are introduced to the Eliminate Lionfish tool, otherwise known as an E.L.F, which is used to spear the fish with minimum impact on the surrounding reef. It's important to learn how to avoid getting 'spiked' by a lionfish as their poisonous spines can induce delirium, breathing difficulties and, in extreme cases, paralysis.

Next it's into the water for target practice using the equipment. After a few good shots, divers are guided onto the reef for their first hunt.  In a second dive, students will fine-tune their skills on a reef where recent lionfish sightings have been made. After completion of the course, participants receive their PADI Lionfish Hunter certification and can participate in guided hunting dives.

Andreas Elia, Managing Director of Regaldive, stated, "This is a hugely worthwhile, if slightly unusual course. Managing the population of these predators is vital and, as such, the hunting can be undertaken with a clear conscience. If lionfish numbers aren't controlled, then it won't be long before the Caribbean's beautiful and diverse reefs will be destroyed."

He continued, "As an added incentive, efforts are also rewarded in the kitchen. Lionfish is a gourmet delicacy, closely matching other prized but threatened species such as grouper. It is often served in restaurants diced in coconut curry, battered or as ceviche. A nice addition to this course is that customers have the chance to bring back the lionfish they have caught for filleting and preparation by the Buddy Dive chef."

For those keen to do their bit to keep down the lionfish numbers in the Caribbean, Regaldive is offering the opportunity to take part in this course on its Bonaire diving holidays. A week's stay at the small and friendly Buddy Dive Resort costs from £1,391 per person based on two sharing. This includes flights, seven nights' B&B accommodation, transfers and local tax. The PADI Lionfish Hunter Speciality course costs from £75 per person. When not hunting for lionfish, a six-day unlimited shore diving dive pack costs from £113.

Visit for more information.

More Photos - Click to Enlarge

Lionfish - credit Iain Paul