JUPITER, FL - Brett Johnson is familiar with the waters of South Florida. On a recent snorkel trip he knew right away that he stumbled across something that simply didn't belong.
Brett and his buddy were snorkeling in the Jupiter Inlet when they spotted a mating pair of lionfish.
"I'm just glad I had my camera so we could document the fact that they were there," says Johnson.
He says they decided to catch the female before she had a chance to increase the population of the non-native species.
"It was a hand spear type deal with 3 prongs, caught it right through the gill...humanely caught it," says Johnson.
There are no federal regulations on the harvesting of lionfish, but officials want you to know that they are dangerous to people and other species.
They emit a toxin through their needle-like dorsal fins that can harm swimmers and divers. For that reason people are urged "not" to touch them.
The sting can be extremely painful causing nausea and sometimes breathing difficulties. Lionfish also pose quite a risk to native reef fish devouring their local food supply. So what should you do if you come across a lionfish? You're encouraged to note its location and report it.
The non-governmental agency called "Reef Environmental Education Foundation" compiles sightings of the non-native fish.
To report one call 305-395-8730 or 305-852-0030 or go to the Reef Environmental Education Foundation's website at : www.reef.org/lionfish
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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