Members of the REEF team pose with lionfish at the contactless fish drop-off station at the REEF Campus in Key Largo during a very rainy Saturday.

Members of the REEF team pose with lionfish at the contactless fish drop-off station at the REEF Campus in Key Largo during a very rainy Saturday. 

Despite social distancing requirements and less than ideal weather thanks to Tropical Storm Sally, twenty-seven teams fished from sunrise to sunset September 11-12, 2020 to bring in 1,321 destructive lionfish during the recent REEF Lionfish Derby. As previously reported, the Reef Environmental

Education Foundation has been on the forefront of battling this invasive Indo-Pacific species that adversely impacts, and in some cases, almost decimates native fish populations.

Results of the record number of fish were provided by REEF. “The “Most Lionfish” category included the competitive Apex Predators division, as well as the Reef Defenders division for more casual lionfish hunters. Cash prizes were awarded for first through fifth place in the Apex Predators division. Team Bottle Buddies led the Apex Predators with 295 lionfish. Team Forever Young finished second with 254 lionfish, and team Finn-Atic Fish Co. placed third with 242 lionfish. Fourth place went to team Florida Man with 162 lionfish, and team Pain Killer placed fifth with 141 lionfish.

In the Reef Defenders division, team Squid INK won first place with 51 lionfish. Team Totally Working brought in 28 lionfish for second place, and team Pterois Pterror took third place in the division with 17 lionfish.

Competition was extremely close in the largest and smallest lionfish categories. Team Forever Young won first place in the “Largest Lionfish” category with a 410 millimeter lionfish, which is just over 16 inches long. Team Rainbow’s Reef’s second place fish measured 409 mm, and team Lion Kings took third place with a 406 mm fish. The smallest fish of the derby was 60 mm, harvested by team Florida Man. Team Totally Working received second place with an 85 mm fish, and team Got Fish and Team JBK each brought in an 86 mm fish to tie for third place. Teams Florida Man and Bottle Buddies also caught several tiny, live lionfish to be displayed in an educational exhibit at the REEF Campus. The smallest of three live fish captured was 79 mm.”

All the details are posted online at derby and the intent is to hold next year’s regular event-packed Keys Lionfish Derby and Festival

September 12, 2021, at Postcard Inn Resort and Marina in Islamorada.

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