Anglers compete to rid Florida Keys of lionfish

LONG KEY— - Divers hoping to win cash and prizes will be chasing lionfish in the waters off the Florida Keys over the weekend.

The second annual round of lionfish derbies begins Saturday at a resort in Long Key in the Middle Keys. The derbies are hosted by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation.

The derbies continue in August in Key Largo and in November in Key West. All divers are given puncture-resistant gloves to protect them from the lionfish's venomous spines.

Last year, more than 40 teams of divers caught more than 650 lionfish in the waters off the Keys.

The lionfish is an invasive species that lacks natural predators in the Atlantic. Scientists worry it will disrupt the balance of the marine ecosystem here.

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