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Lionfish tournament breaks records, removes 1300 fish from reef

Cayman’s culling community took a massive bite out of the island’s population of invasive lionfish over the weekend.

Cayman United Lionfish League, or CULL, says the two-day round up brought in more than 1300 fish, the second most in tournament history.

“It’s one of our best tournaments ever. It was amazing because we had very bad weather this weekend,” said CULL member and tournament participant Mark Orr.

High winds and rough seas on the north and west sides forced most cullers to hunt the south wall. Neptune divers found some real whoppers on sites not routinely visited by Cayman’s dive operators, including a 302mm fish, the biggest in the tournament.

“The big fish that got taken there are three ones that are doing all the breeding, taking that many fish from an area, really cleaning it, stops that whole area from breeding as fast,” said Mr. Orr, who also works with the Department of Environment.

When it comes to lionfish, size matters. At only 19 millimeters, one tiny lionfish was good for $500 and a new tournament record for the team from lobster pot dive centre.

“What it shows is that people are keeping their eyes out for more than just the big fish now, and that’s one of the things that’s important because these small fish eat a lot of fish to get big,” said Mr. Orr.

Cull heavyweights DiveTech defended their title in the weight category with nearly 50 pounds per diver, and Mr. Orr’s team Green Water returned to form, taking back top honours in the quantity category at 92 fish per team member.

“This was a very competitive tournament, it had a lot of teams bringing in be numbers, big fish, small fish, and it’s been a big improvement,” said Mr. Orr.

From divers spear to dinner plate, Mr. Orr said you can help save our reefs one bite at a time.

“One of out mottos is eat them to beat them,” said Mr. Orr, “And if you see it on the menu, give it a try.”


If you’re a fan of lionfish already, or just want to taste it for the first time, the fish from this weekend’s tournament will be available to check out at the Brasserie.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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Kirk Freeport – January 2019
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