For research purposes, netting is the preferred method as is preserves the specimen and allows the fish to be killed in a humane manner. LionFish may sometimes be taken by hook and line.
Overview of Correct Capturing Techniques
- The aim is to corner the ﬁsh with nets, Lad Atkins of REEF states,”… then grab it by its bony head and place it carefully in a water-ﬁlled bag, a procedure that causes the least amount of distress to the marine animal.”
- It is important that when attempting to capture Lionﬁsh that the netter is both patient and has clear communication with the dive buddy(s). These are some of the most important skills required.
Detailed Procedures – Capturing Techniques
- Once a Lionﬁsh is located the ﬁrst step is to assess the area and determine the possible escape routes for the ﬁsh.
- Working in teams of at least two, one diver has two underwater nets which are held arms length apart as they approach the Lionﬁsh. One net should be placed behind the ﬁsh while the net in front of the ﬁsh should be used as the “decoy.”
- One of the prime purposes of the decoy net is to persuade the Lionﬁsh it does not want to come towards the net, thus encouraging it to turn and ﬂee in the opposite direction, into the net placed at the rear.
- The buddy diver may carry a teaser stick which is gently waved from side to side to help deter a LionFish from taking an alternative escape route.
- Once the Lionﬁsh has swum into a net the two nets should rapidly be brought together, thereby preventing the Lionﬁsh from escaping.
- The Lionﬁsh must then be grabbed by its bony head, between the eyes and the gills, in a ﬁ rm grip by a diver wearing a protective puncture-proof glove. No attempt should be made to grab a Lionﬁsh without a protective puncture-proof glove.
- Once grabbed, the net is inverted so that the Lionﬁsh is now sticking out of the net except for the head portion, which is being held.
- The dive buddy opens the bag fully to allow water to enter and then the Lionﬁsh is to be placed into the bag tail ﬁrst. Once the Lionﬁsh is a safe distance inside the bag the ﬁsh is released and the bag is sealed.
- If this is not the ﬁrst Lionﬁsh to be captured and placed in the bag it is helpful for the dive buddy to place the bag on a surface (without damaging or injuring the marine life) and use their teaser stick to split the bag in two sections, while carefully avoiding any venomous spines.
- This technique should be practiced on dry land before attempting this procedure underwater.