Kyle aka Cookie, the Lionfish slayer!
May 16, 2013
“Today I woke up at 5.30am and found out that I missed seeing a school of Dolphins by 15 minutes!!! Every morning I wake up ready to go and very excited to dive.
We had a little briefing around 7am and I found out I would be spearing Lionfish. I have wanted to do this for 2 years now! Shortly after the briefing, I also found out I would be wearing the GoPro Hero Cam on my head for the dive. This would provide excellent video of all the divers spearing Lionfish.
As 7.30am approached, we prepared all the gear and loaded the boat. At 8am we headed for a dive site called ‘Walkabout’. The dive started in 60ft of water where we headed for the shelf at about 90-100ft! On the way to the shelf Harry and Jason speared a few Lionfish. Right as we got to the shelf, Joe nailed one hiding behind a small piece of reef. As soon as we dropped over the shelf, Jason and Harry started slaying the Lionfish. At one point they speared 4 Lionfish in a row! Over the edge of the shelf the water went off into a blue abyss. I am kind of curious to know just how deep it was to the bottom.
We continued along the shelf looking in all of the barrel sponges and the variety of fish. Jason and Harry were still spearing a fair number of Lionfish. Shortly after we moved back up to 60ft, I spotted a new fish for my dives, the Queen triggerfish. It was an amazingly beautiful find for me.
Then the spears get passed to Chad and myself for our first chance at spearing Lionfish. When they handed me the spear, I felt like all Lionfish were hiding from me! After a few minutes, Polly pointed out a pair sitting on the bottom. I slid the spear back and lined up the shot. It was a good hit!!! All three prongs went in and I pinned it to the sand where I waited for Jason to come put it in the bag. Then Chad speared his first Lionfish, which was right next to mine.
I was so excited that my first effort was a success and I didn’t even miss! It was surprisingly relaxing when I saw the fish and slowly swam up and took aim. I am surprised I didn’t waste air from being so excited.
We proceeded and Polly pointed out a very large Lionfish up off the bottom swimming along. Again, I slowly snuck up on it and made a great shot right behind the head! It instantly stopped swimming, which was evidence of the good shot made! The dive ended after Chad got his second Lionfish.
Once on the boat everyone congratulated us on the spearing we did which reinforced the excitement and gratitude I was already feeling from getting this opportunity.
When we got back to the island. We started working up the fish by taking 2 length measurements, sexing the fish and checking stomach contents. Jason showed us how it was done, but made it look considerably easier than it actually was! Then we dissected them, which is similar to how you filet a fish, which I had never done before today! I am sure with practice I will get much better! It was great to see what the Lionfish prey upon. What we found consisted mainly of shrimp and a few crabs and fish.
Getting the chance to spear the fish today made this already amazing trip even better! I believe I will be enjoying the fruits of my labor for quite some time. Later, Polly will prepare Lionfish fish cakes with a sweet chilli dip and salad for dinner.”