Monday, May 25, 2009

Reef Jam and the Invasion of Lionfish

This was the scene yesterday at Rainbow Beach in Frederiksted while ReefJam '09 was in full swing.

According to, "Our mission is to improve St. Croix coral reef conservation efforts through community education, stewardship and conservation programs which promote positive behavior changes toward our marine environment."

Indeed, there were activity tents, information stations, beach games, frolicking in the water, burgers and ribs and grilled chicken, lots of beer, and fun music.

The musical lineup was great. It began with fun Cuban-Latin music from Siete Son, followed by Kurt Schindler's world funk (accompanied in this photo by Conga player extraordinaire Junie Bomba), and ending to the sway of the Reggae Bubblers.

Amid the dancing and the beach fun, we saw first-hand the great danger threating our coral reefs. Here's a photo of a Lionfish caught in February right on this beach.

These small fish that look like aquatic zebras are venomous to humans. When they invade a reef community, they can gobble up about 80% of the fish population in that reef. Their invasion in the Atlantic and Caribbean is occurring at a staggering speed. They're already spread throughout the Bahamas.

This year St. Croix fishermen and divers have spotted about 6 Lionfish around our island. There is an effort now among local authorities and conservationists to raise community awareness to minimize the impact of the Lionfish in our coral reefs. If any of us are snorkeling or diving out there and catch sight of a Lionfish, we are to immediately report the sighting to a local dive shop or contact the Division of Fish and Fish and Wildlife (340-772-1955).

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