Divers will return to Florida Keys waters next month on a mission: net thousands of dollars in cash and prizes while protecting the environment from invasive lionfish.
Since the 2009, lionfish derbies have helped remove 6,528 of the Pacific invaders from waters in South Florida, Florida Keys, and the Banamas.
This year, more than $10,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to the divers who bring in the most lionfish, largest lionfish, and smallest lionfish during the Sanctuary/REEF series of tournaments. Teams of up to four divers may register online at Lionfish Derbies | Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) or pick up registration forms at participating derby venues. Along with dinner and raffle tickets, the $120 registration fee provides each team with a pair of puncture resistant gloves or a capture bag - important protection from lionfish spines.