On Saturday, May 7th, the Reef Ecology and Restoration team at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) partnered with The Blue Seahorse gift shop in Rock Sound for a day of lionfish festivities. The afternoon was centered around different crafts and foods people can make with this invasive species. Delicious lionfish burgers were served at The Blue Seahorse and the reef team was able to demonstrate different aspects of lionfish research by teaching how to dissect and properly fillet a lionfish while handling the 18 venomous spines. A main goal of the reef team is to debunk the myth that lionfish are poisonous or deadly. The team even brought a live lionfish in a display tank to show how lionfish use their pectoral fins to herd juvenile fish for consumption.Reef team members Helen Conlon and Pauline Navaez educate visitors about invasive lionfish, how to properly fillet them, and how their fins can be used for jewelry. Photo courtesy of The Eleutheran.

Along with the current threats posed by the lionfish in the Caribbean, visitors also learned about the use of the beautiful lionfish fins for jewelry. Customers were even able to purchase lionfish earrings and necklaces that artist and owner Holly Burrows made. On Thursday, May 19th, Holly came down to CEI to host a lionfish jewelry making workshop. Participants picked their fins, taken from harvested lionfish, and with the guidance of Holly created beautiful sets of earrings and necklaces. Lionfish jewelry is a fantastic way to profit from the invasion, while also helping to create a demand for lionfish–and not to mention makes for a great gift for loved ones.

Lionfish earrings made by Helen Conlon during the jewelry workshop put on by Holly Burrows.

Invasive lionfish in the Caribbean have a spawning rate of 30,000 eggs every four days, while having no predators in their invasive range. They also have the potential to reduce the abundance of fish on a reef by over 80%. The Slayer Campaign, established by CEI, encourages the fishing and spearing of lionfish by local fisherman by paying fishermen for their catch efforts ($11/lb of lionfish fillet). Removing lionfish from local reefs not only benefits the coral ecosystem but, also provides CEI and the reef team with more lionfish to dissect for research. Discussing and displaying this ongoing research and effort with tourists and locals made lionfish day at The Blue Seahorse a huge success!