Published On: Wed, May 24th, 2017

Curaçao students in Miami help with lionfish project

lionfishMIAMI, WILLEMSTAD – Several Curaçao students in Miami participated in a project to raise awareness about the threat of the invasive lionfish.  According to Dan Sturgis, a high school marine biology teacher in South Florida, the lionfish invasion has been reported to start in the early 1990's off of the coast of Miami. He believes they were released into the ocean by households that did not want them in their aquariums anymore. In the early 2000's they started to spread throughout the coastlines of the Southern United States and the Caribbean. In the last 10 years, they have completely dominated these waters. They are an ecological disaster. Nothing in the water is known to eat them (there are some mix reports of some fish/sharks trying to learn how to eat them). They can reproduce when they are very young. They can be found in shallow to fairly deep water. They are always eating other fish. They can tolerate brackish water. They are eating all of the food of the local fish we already have established fish markets for, snappers and groupers. They also eat a lot of the fish that help clean the reefs so they help contribute to the demise of our precious and much needed coral reef ecosystems. When you put all of these facts together it makes the lionfish a top ecological threat to the East Coast of the United States, the Gulf of Mexico, and to the entire Caribbean.

“We wanted to raise awareness about what might be our best solution to slow, or maybe even stop this invasion; EatFullSizeRender (3) (2) 'Em to Beat 'Em! By eating lionfish it creates a winning situation for everyone (well except the lionfish). By eating lionfish we will be removing them from our waters and helping to save our reef ecosystems. By eating lionfish we will also be creating more financial revenue for local fisherman and divers. In South Florida, we are now selling lionfish at several local grocery stores, restaurants, and fish markets. This allows more divers to sell their lionfish which are in huge abundance off of our coastlines. Divers have been reporting that they can bag high amounts of lionfish everytime they go out. It seems the average rate the meat is sold in South Florida is about $20 to $30 a pound. This revenue can help our local business and help the environment at the same time. My former student from Curacao, Raichel De Freitas, is currently taking college classes in the United States and is on a swimming athletic scholarship. When he goes back to Curacao he free dives near Boka Sami and spears the many lionfish that can be found there. He is also able to sell these lionfish and make a profit from them. Another plus of eating lionfish is that they taste amazing! Some compare them to grouper. They have a very tender white meat that has a sweet taste without being to 'fishy'. A lot of people in the United States do not know that they are even edible, let alone taste great!”

According to Sturgis, they wanted to use the senior class of 17 and 18 year olds to work together on a project that is bigger than themselves. At Trinity Christian Academy, Lake Worth, Florida, they want students to focus on strong education for world change. They wanted the students to work hard on something that can actually make a positive change in the world.

“The project was a huge success! We made posters to raise awareness to all of the students in our school. We also sold hundreds of silicon bracelets that said, " Eat 'Em to Beat 'Em - Save Our Reefs - Eat Lionfish". We then used the money from selling the bracelets to buy local lionfish. We cooked the lionfish for all of the students in our classroom. Many of the students had never tried lionfish before. Everyone enjoyed it and it was a great experience for everyone. We also were able to get media coverage from three different South Florida newspapers. Including, the large Sun-Sentinel. This helped us get out word out to a multitude of households. With your help you can help us spread the word of the lionfish problem, the best solution to this problem, and the hard work Curacao students are doing at Trinity Christian Academy, Lake Worth to make this world a better place. Here is a list of my hard working Curacao students who helped make this project a huge success: Carolus Josefina, Seggio Bernardina, Gionn Brigitha, Serwin Kastaneer, Celine Spencer, Lishanty Guillermo, William Plaate,” said Sturgis.

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