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Weekend diving – culling and photography – updated

25 April 2016

It’s been a little while since I’ve been out diving due to holidays and various work commitments. To remedy this I signed up for an “Earth Day” Lionfish cull on Saturday with Dive Tech and a two tank Sunday morning “strictly no spears” dive with Don Fosters.

This was partly because I have one friend who won’t dive unless he is spearing Lionfish, and another friend who won’t dive if we are. They otherwise get along fine and invite each other to the dives they are interested in, but I usually have to make a choice. This weekend I decided to do both.

I’ve dived, and even arranged, several Lionfish culls with Dive Tech. Going from the North-west corner of the island, there are several dive centres, and the sites are normally regularly culled. The plan was to do a drift dive between dive sites between Sandhole Reef and Macabuca (which I regularly do as a night dive), and reach some places that aren’t regularly dived. When I do a cull I don’t take my camera, but do take along my GoPro (a Hero 3+ Black) because quite often the sharks show interest and who knows what we may come across.

This Lionfish cull was one of the best I have been on. Normally West side culls see fewer Lionfish than the East.  This is usually bitter-sweet; it suggests the culling is working, but leads to less excitement. This dive was different. Although we didn’t see a Lionfish for the first ten minutes, and I was mentally composing myself for a “well it’s good for the reef” rationale, we came upon a crevice which I felt should have Lionfish, and it did. Three large fish went into the bucket. We then had a crazy run, including six Lionfish in a little overhang that was literally like shooting fish in a barrel. We stuffed the bucket on that dive, I literally lost count but we got about 25 between us.  All of the other cullers did well, and we had filled the boat’s cool box on the first dive. We had also seen a large green turtle, it’s nice to take a minute to remember why we’re preserving the reef, not just the excitement of hunting.

I was prepared for the second dive to be a wash out. We dropped down and swam along the crevice for the mini-wall but all the other divers had the same idea so we headed out deep. The dive as much more successful than I had hoped. I was amazed  by the number that we saw simply out in the open, normally on the West area the Lionfish are skittish but we managed to bag another 15-20. We were both surprisingly accurate, I only missed one Lionfish the whole dive. Whilst the official number is yet to be released, I suspect in the region of 150 Lionfish were culled, a great result for the reef, but it goes to show that we can’t stop the efforts. The second dive also had some wonderful wildlife, a large grab, a Nurse shark, a five foot Moray Eel and another large turtle.

The dive was pretty intense, great wildlife and regular Lionfish. Looking forward to a relaxed dive with the camera now. Hopefully with some good pictures to come.

Updated, report in from Divetech, we culled 129 Lionfish. Some decent pics from the relaxing Sunday dive, but surprised to still see so many Lionfish at regular dive sites.

  1. Those videos of the turtles swimming around are amazing!

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