BOYNTON BEACH, FLA. - Shoot them, sling them or spear them. Whatever it takes, divers are on the hunt to kill lionfish. The predators are destroying reefs by devouring tropical fish from the Caribbean up the Eastern Seaboard.
"We're trying to help control the population of lionfish, because they're taking over our reefs and eating al of our tropical fish," says Sandra Green, a local diver.
The Lionfish Hunt event kicked off today. It's a competition to see how many lionfish divers can kill. The spine-covered creature reproduces every 5 days and has few local predators. It's native to Asian waters, and was brought over to be put in fish tanks. Often when the fish gets too big, owners release them into local waters where they were not previously naturally found.
Divers say the lionfish eat smaller fish that feast on the algae on coral reefs.
"Without those fish, the concern is that the reef will become overgrown with algae and the coral will die," says Kevin Metz, an avid diver.
"It really hurts our reeds, our tourism, our business of bringing people to Florida," says Green.
Dozens of divers are taking part in the competition, which ends Saturday.