This past weekend, CEI participated in Conch Fest, the Homecoming celebration for the settlement of Deep Creek, where several CEI staff call home. The focus of this year’s booth was to promote the National Conchservation Campaign, as well as to serve lionfish samples as an alternative to conch.Deep Creek Middle School students gathered around the CEI booth for a lionfish sample. They had to answer trivia questions on conch and lionfish to get a taste!

CEI staff Claire Thomas, Meredith Lemon, and Jocelyn Curtis-Quick posing by the CEI booth, ready to cook some lionfish!

On Friday night, we served up fried lionfish, fresh out of the fryer. We gave away over 100 samples! Dozens of people came up saying “no you can’t eat that, it’ll kill you!” The truth is, lionfish do have venomous spines, but the meat is healthy and delicious, and once the fish is filleted it can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Educating the community on the truth behind handling and eating lionfish was a priority for the researchers who came out to volunteer at the fest.

On Saturday night, the team was at it again, this time serving up lionfish salad, or ceviche. This way of serving lionfish involves curing the raw meat with lime juice, then adding onions, tomatoes, peppers, and sometimes orange juice for some flavor. The preparation is similar to making a conch salad, but relies on using lionfish, an invasive species which is over-abundant, rather than the queen conch, which, although delicious and served commonly in Bahamian restaurants, is in severe decline. Lionfish are easy to catch, prepare, and eat, and we are grateful for the opportunity to spread the word to members of the South Eleuthera community.