The Bahamas 🇧🇸
” what da wybe is? ” or “what’s up”
Consisting of more than 700 coral islands and cays of which only 20 or so are inhabited, the Bahamas is a well known and popular Caribbean vacation destination and a favorite area for diving and snorkeling, especially along the Andros barrier reef!
Lionfish were first discovered in the Bahamas in 2004 and they are found throughout the region today.
We contacted a few of the popular diving services in Nassau and Freeport and some say that lionfish numbers are down slightly which is good to hear! Culling efforts on the reefs and locally organized lionfish tournaments may be having an effect, at least at the more popular dive sites.
Spearguns are illegal in the Bahamas but polespears or Hawaiian slings are fine to use while free diving if you plan to help out with the cause. But to be absolutely sure about lionfish hunting rules, I contacted the chief fishery’s officer Mr Gilford Lloyd, and this was his reply:
“The Bahamas seeks to eradicate this invasive species from within its boundaries. Towards that end, the Bahamas will assist by permitting the use of compressors/scuba, polespears/hawaiian slings with no length restrictions and with barbed tips”
So compressors and scuba tanks ARE permitted when hunting lionfish! (Only lionfish!). Don’t be tempted to spear a lobster or anything else as there are very strict rules, area closures and licensing requirements in the Bahamas.
Here are a few of the many dive shops and services in the Bahamas to contact:
Bahama Divers in Nassau
1242 393 5644
Grand Bahama Scuba in Freeport
1242 373 6775
Sunn Odyssey Divers in Freeport
1242 373 4014
Caribbean Divers in Freeport
1242 373 9111
There are dozens of other diving organizations that serve the “out islands” so my advice is to ask around if you are looking to experience the more remote diving sites. Have a look at the website called “The Out Islands of the Bahamas”.
The government authority to contact if you need more information is the Bahamas Dept of Marine Resources.
1242 397 1767
Regarding lionfish trap research, we did receive an interesting observation from our friend Reginald Sweeting in the Abacos Islands, who is a commercial lobster fisherman. He and his fellow fisher friends have concluded that lionfish like to hang out around any kind of rusted steel or iron, particularly in the stone crab pots that some of them are using, and around any other sunken metal objects! They are convinced that something to do with the corrosive reaction in salt water may be attracting lionfish. This could be a very important breakthrough as far as trap research goes so we have passed these thoughts on to our researcher friends who are experimenting with traps!
As far as where can visitors sample some lionfish at restaurants? ….. there are several these days.
In Nassau check out Graycliff Restaurant, the Billfish Grill and Mahogany House.
In Freeport the Flying Fish was recommended.
Luciano’s in Port Lucia has lionfish when they can get it.
And of course, the very well known Bimini Big Game Club (on Bimini Island) has a reputation for its delicious lionfish nuggets so try those while you’re looking at all the Ernest Hemingway memorabilia on the walls!
Visitors to the Bahamas cannot sell their catch but we suggest that you see if a local restaurant can prepare it for you. Typically, they charge $10 USD to do that. Well worth it!
Enjoy your time in the Bahamas, bring along a travel polespear and help save a reef! It might be wise to call the Department of Marine Resources before you get in the water and let them know that you will only be targeting lionfish! (1242 397 1767).
Happy hunting and please share your lionfish spearing pictures with us.
Reporting for LFU
Lionator Pole Spears