Deep Drift Dives and a Lionfish Hunt

Friday was a fantastic day of diving since I got to visit some new dive sites and got to photograph the capture of two Lionfish. We started out the day with Captain Bill leading a small group of us on two drift dives at Molasses Deep. We hit  52 feet on the first dive and 48 on the second. There was not much hard coral at that depth, but there was lots of Barrel Sponges and soft coral. The second dive was especially memorable since I found a fish that I did not know the species.

Amber Jack

Using the photograph I was able to do some research and found out it was an Amber Jack.

The afternoon dive was another deep drift dive at a site near Conch Reef called Conch Wall. It is near the NOAA Aquarius Underwater Research Station, which is a restricted area. We hit 72 feet and saw a Spotted Morey Eel, a Green Morey Eel and two large Nurse Sharks.

Spotted Morey Eel

Nurse Shark

Safety Stop

We stayed a bit shallower for the last dive since were were getting loaded up with nitrogen and did a drift dive and lionfish hunt near Snapper Ridge.

Lionfish near Snapper Ridge

For those that don’t know, Lionfish are an invasive species that are interfering with the natural food web of the native species in the Florida Keys. Check out the Reef.org Web page at http://www.reef.org/programs/exotic/lionfish for more information. Rainbow Reef dive guides have been specially trained to safely remove them from the reefs in an attempt to control the damage done by these fish.

We discovered two of them, which dive guide Mike easily captured.

Lionfish capture on Snapper Ridge

They were brought back to the boat so the Rainbow Reef dive team could turn them into the NOAA scientist for study.

Lionfish in a bag

I was excited to be able to document the capture of two of this invasive species that is doing so much damage to the native Caribbean ecosystem.

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