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Taste of Cobalt Coast

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Cayman isn’t just the culinary capital of the Caribbean, you know.  We’ve also got some of the most beautiful and pristine diving sites in the world. Folks from all over come to the Cayman Islands to experience the world famous Bloody Bay Wall in Little Cayman, hang out with the iconic Nassau grouper at Bert Brothers Boulders in the Brac and explore the depths of Cayman’s newest Marine Park – the sunken U.S.S. Kittiwake off Seven Mile Beach.
One of the first things I did after moving to the Cayman Islands was become a certified open water diver.  I’ve seen so many cool things down there: coral in every color imaginable, lobsters, conch with their wonky eyes, neat fish in all shapes and sizes, sharks, stingrays and moray eels bigger than me! Cayman’s reefs are home to a wonderland of beauty, mystery and adventure.
Photo by Cobalt Coast’s Dora Valdez
Unfortunately, our reefs are under siege by this guy: the lionfish.  Yea, I know…he’s very pretty.  He’s also an invasive eating machine that decimates local fish populations. This Indo-Pacific Lionfish showed up in Cayman about 4 years ago and has since managed to wreak havoc on the local reef system.  To fight this menace, dozens of newly-licensed lionfish cullers can now use special spearguns (illegal under normal circumstances) to help them round up a fish that has no natural predators in these waters.
Cue Cobalt Coast.
Cobalt Coast Resort & Suites and Divetech are located on the northern tip of West Bay on Grand Cayman and they know exactly how serious a threat the lionfish is to Cayman; both for to environment and to tourism.  At this year’s Taste of Cayman, Dora Valdez with Cobalt Coast will be participating in a lionfish demonstration.  She’ll teach visitors how the fish are caught and how they’re safety filleted.  The ‘mane’ of slender stingers that inspired the name ‘lionfish’ are also quite poisonous.
For this week’s Taste of Cayman feature, Dora and I headed under the sea to catch us a lionfish!
Photos by Dora Valdez
A few years ago, it was a rare treat to see a lionfish on a dive.  Things have certainly changed.  Within 15 minutes we spotted a monster specimen and Dora did her thing.
Despite getting proper speared, this lionfish managed to escape.  I wish I could say we didn’t find any more but Dora noticed an equally gigantic one a few minutes later.  This one wasn’t so lucky.
So what do you do once you’ve successfully caught an evil lionfish?
…to be continued.
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36 Comments

  1. Cook it! I've heard lionfish can be delicious

  2. We go to the aquarium to see my kids' favorite Lionfish! =D I'll make sure my kids don't see that. lol. But I'm curious what's going to happen to the lionfish~~ 😉

  3. God, what fun pictures….
    I totally wanna do this someday….

  4. I loved seeing these great pictures of your adventure!

  5. I have heard of the lionfish invasion, and it is good to see they are ending up on menus. You have some great shots there. I wish I could join you! Beautiful!

  6. with every post you write I think i should talk hubby more into spending a week or two on the island. sounds like a dreamy place

  7. You are a very cool lady! every time I visit your blog I feel like I've had a mini vacation! incredible pictures – thanks for taking us diving with you!
    mary x

  8. this is so cool that you do this! my friends dad had one of those lion fish in a tank (he collected crazy fish) back in the day- i had no idea they were an invasive species…i totally want to do something like this one day!

  9. Great post; really enjoyed your photos and all the information; I learned so much. I guess you know you love in paradise.
    Rita

  10. This was like taking a mini-vacation now that the weather has turned COLDer (below freezing!) here. Thanks for sending some warmth our way! Smiling over the Okie reference in the comment somewhere above, too. 🙂

  11. Very informative post, I was not aware of the impact of this fish! Certified diver-well your are in the right place to be one, your pictures are amazing. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your adventure in the sea. Poor fishy…I will have to come back and see what becomes of him!

  12. What a post!! The photos are so beautiful!!

  13. So stunning…and what an adventure! Now I am extremely curious about what you did with that bad boy 🙂

  14. So jealous of that available pasttime you have. So relaxing!

  15. Sorry … question … do they know how they got there if Cayman is not their natural habitat?

  16. The last time I went to Grand Cayman with my parents 25 years ago … it is still one of the greatest vacations I remember … beautiful people, beautiful beaches, beautiful dives … the food was amazing too! I did my first night time dive there … tried to go back for the half marathon, but life got in the way 🙂 … hope to go back soon and hopefully meet you … good luck with the fish!

  17. Soooo beautiful!
    I can't wait to see more photos 🙂

  18. gosh that is a wonderful outing… i love to dive and capture all the wonderful pictures. thanks a lot for sharing.

  19. Oh my gosh, how lovely these photos are!!:)
    I know the lionfish deserves no sympathy, but I still feel 'ouch' when I saw that it was caught and erm..speared:p

  20. Oooh, I can't wait! My two sons and one daughter-in-law are open water divers and they go all over the place and dive! Your pictures are stunning….can't wait to see part 2!

  21. What beautiful photos!

  22. Great photos and interesting post. I did not even know lion fish could be eaten. I am very impressed by your diving prowess and bravery 🙂 I am a bit afraid of diving. One day I will have to conquer this fear!

  23. Love this post! great photos and I look forward to reading about the rest of the adventure 🙂

  24. Wonderful post! I have to giggle at the little girl that used to throw up at the thought of a “scary ride” at DisneyWorld! You are FEARLESS! A true Okie, kill it then eat it! Mrs. Herb Garden

  25. Can I tell you how envious I am of your adventure right now? It's below zero here with mountains of snow. Great pictures!

  26. No kidding it's extraordinarily beautiful! What a post… I seem to have become somewhat less brave with age 😉 – I will have to live vicariously through your adventures!

  27. Wow what a neat experience! Evil lionfish! It's great that you are bringing attention to this!

  28. Holy cow … that is SO cool! 🙂 Awesome. Can't wait to see the fate of the lion fish!

  29. OF COURSE you are a certified diver! LOL… Did you fry up that lionfish?!?!!? I can't wait to see your next post! 😀

  30. Cool! Well, cool for everyone but the lionfish. Great pictures!

  31. Beautiful and colorful photos, and great story! You're now making me dream of this gorgeous island of yours.

  32. Amazing post, really fabulous!

  33. Wow, you are a brave soul!

  34. Sitting in rainy Scotland – its a joy to read your posts. I had no idea these things were a menace. Can't wait for the second part.

  35. Wow! What a cool thing to post about. Invasive fish species are really scary. Great way to bring attention to it. Buzzing and stumbling!

  36. Wow!!! What a wonderful experience though I have not gone under before, I suppose you need some training and practice to do this. I have heard so much on Cayman Islands and yes, god willing I am hoping to explore this place in the near future.

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