If you’re reading this, chances are you’re interested in hunting lionfish. However, jumping right into the game on your own can be daunting. That’s why a number of companies and organizations set-up lionfish hunting eco-tourism trips to handle the logistics for you so that you can learn how to safely hunt lionfish with experts around, and then take those skills back to your hometown to control the spread of lionfish on a local scale.
There are a number of different companies/non-profits to pick from, so we decided to highlight a few of our favourites in this post to simplify things for you!
Our top pick: Ocean Strike Team (https://oceanstriketeam.org/)
Ocean Strike Team is a non-profit based out of Pensacola, Florida, that aims to educate the public on invasive species and their impact on our reefs. They offer a broad variety of eco-tourism trips including a shark research trip, a reef survey trip, a coral restoration dive trip and of course, lionfish hunting eco-trips! For lionfish trips, they provide you with 4 nights of accommodation, 3 days of 2 lionfish hunting dives, all the equipment you need, snacks/drinks on the boat daily and a chef-prepared lionfish dinner on one night! (I wonder if they use recipes from our blog!)
A trip with the Ocean Strike Team is a great opportunity to learn how to hunt lionfish while surrounded by experts who will make sure to keep you safe and who will teach you everything there is to know about lionfish hunting, invasive species and protecting our oceans. You can be sure you’re safe, because they carry StingMaster on board to protect all their clients in the event of a lionfish, jellyfish, sea lice or fire coral sting! Check out this testimonial video from Shannon, one of their customers who used StingMaster after getting stung by fire coral on a dive!:
Other great options:
Blue Ventures Conservation is a non-profit that helps develop and support conservation efforts in regions where “the ocean is vital to local cultures and economies”.They run lionfish trips out of the incredibly beautiful Belize, specifically in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve. On this trip, you’ll learn about lionfish ecology and other marine life that you can spot on your dives! They also teach specifics on safely removing lionfish, how to detect them and train participants on reef surveying. What’s even more exciting is that survey data from participants helps contribute to their data set that that use to monitor the spread of the lionfish – so not only do you get to learn how to hunt lionfish, but you get to contribute to scientific research!
This trip is especially scenic, having been named one of the best tours in Central and South America by National Geographic in 2015! With a PADI certification, you can participate in this 9-day long trip, with the pick-up and drop-off points being in San Pedro and accommodation located in beautiful eco-cabins in the Marine Reserve facing out onto the Caribbean Sea. This trip includes accommodation, meals, transport to and from San Pedro, diving gear, scientific training and much more!
Placencia Wildside Adventures (https://www.placenciasnorkeling.com/placencia-tours/lionfish-hunting)
If a multi-day trip isn’t for you and you’d prefer a day-trip to learn how to hunt lionfish, this trip is for you! Also in Belize, this trip with Placencia Wildside Adventures includes park fees, lunch, water and sodas/juices along with a guide and diving gear. The trip departs from the dock on the lagoon side of Placencia and following a 1-hour boat ride to the park, you’ll get to hunt as many lionfish as you can and try to beat Belize’s record for the most lionfish caught in a day! The dive guides will teach you the ins and outs of how to use polespears to hunt lionfish, and how to safely take them off the spears. Of course, you can never be too safe so when going on any of these trips, it’s always a good idea to have StingMaster handy with you.