BugFest Underway; Lionfish Also on the Menu!

July 29, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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image1Post-dive lobster barbecues are going to be a lot more sumptuous than usual during this summer’s two-day, Florida-wide lobster mini-season July 29-30.  Extra lobsters will sizzle on the grill, accompanied by tasty fillets of exotic lionfish.  That’s because the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is allowing divers to take an extra lobster over the bag limit each day for harvesting ten or more lionfish.  It’s a special incentive program to help control the burgeoning population of the exotic, peppermint-striped invaders from the Indo Pacific with venom-tipped fins.

Here are some tips to help you catch your limit of bugs while taking as many lionfish as you want:

— In the Atlantic, lionfish and lobsters are often found together in dark caverns and beneath coral ledges in depths ranging from 15 feet to more than 100 feet.  You’ll find plenty of lobsters in shallow water, but more lionfish in 60 feet or deeper because of local culling efforts at heavily-visited inshore reefs.  In the Gulf, artificial reefs hold lots of lionfish, but lobsters may be hit-or-miss.  Best times to harvest both are dusk and dawn.

— While spearing lionfish is legal, spearing lobster is not.  Use your tickler stick, or a lasso-like ‘bugger’, net and catch bag to take lobster.  The most efficient way to take lionfish is with a three-pronged pole spear. Nail the fish in the body, then pin it to the sand while you use kitchen shears or ‘sea snips’ to cut off the spines.  Most, but not all, are venomous, so go ahead and cut them all off for good measure.  Wear puncture-proof gloves.

–If you don’t want to take the time to cut off lionfish spines underwater, then bring a ZooKeeper catch bag.  Available at dive shops, it’s made of durable PVC and has a one-way chute that allows you to insert the speared lionfish, then pull out the spear.  Do not store an un-snipped lionfish in a mesh catch bag; even dead, the spines are venomous.

–If you do get stung, soak the affected area in hot but not scalding water for 30 to 90 minutes and seek medical attention.  No one has died of a lionfish sting, but pain and swelling can be severe.

–Check regulations for the area where you will be diving.  For example, some areas of the Keys prohibit spear fishing–even for lionfish unless you have a special permit.  Mini-season lobster bag limits in the Keys and Biscayne National Park are six per person per day; the limit is 12 elsewhere.  That means you can take seven or 13 if you produce proof you harvested ten or more lionfish.

–Looking for tasty lionfish recipes?  Check out “The Lionfish Cookbook” available at dive shops and at reef.org.

Wounded Vets, SCUBAnauts Help Mote Marine Replant Coral in FL Keys

July 29, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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11800530_873480432730276_4381179584041674224_nChris Corbin dropped about 20 feet to the ocean floor at Looe Key Reef off the Lower Florida Keys July 20 to perform an important task:  planting small staghorn coral bundles as a volunteer for Mote Marine Laboratory’s  reef restoration project.

This was the 37-year-old retired U.S. Army Green Beret’s fourth year as a volunteer citizen scientist working underwater alongside fellow combat vets and middle- and high-school students from SCUBAnauts International on a Mote project.  But fastening the coral fragments with zip ties to nails driven into the bottom was proving challenging in the strong current– especially since Corbin wears two heavy prostheses to replace both legs blown off at mid-calf.

“I just found it easier to drop my feet on a sandy spot and control my buoyancy with my breathing,” Corbin said.

He planted four plots with five fragments each and still had air left in his tank.

“Every time it’s awesome,” he said.  “It’s kind of cool to see your work–‘oh, that was last year and that was 2012′.  It’s always fun.  If nothing else, I’m just playing in the ocean.”

Corbin and about 50 other scuba divers and snorkelers from SCUBAnauts and the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge planted 250 corals along Looe Key that day– adding to the 7,500 already placed by Mote scientists and volunteers on 50 sites along the Keys.  The aim is to restore decades of manmade damage that has wiped out most of the branching corals in the Caribbean– a huge loss to the marine ecosystem and the humans who depend on it.

“Humans have so screwed up the reefs that they will never recover on their own,” Dr. Michael Crosby, Mote President and CEO, told the volunteers. “This is science-based restoration in partnership with all of you.”

Scientists say the rewarding aspect of working with staghorn coral is that it grows fast and is the easiest to bring back.  Fragments cultivated in Mote’s coral nursery have grown large enough to spawn within two years of being replanted on the reef.  Their average survival rate is 75 percent.

“It proves we’re on the right track,” said Erich Bartels, who oversees Mote’s coral nursery project.

Tampa high school student Riley Gillis, 16, became a certified scuba diver last year just so she could help with the restoration work.

“The coral dive is actually my favorite dive I’ve ever done,” Riley said.  “It’s awesome to be part of a team.  I love looking around, the science, the working part of it.  You’re contributing to something.”

For the wounded vets like Corbin, the work isn’t just fun, but an opportunity to bond with fellow vets.

“No one understands a service member that’s been injured like another service member that’s been injured,” Corbin said.  “We’re all trying to get back to a semblance of normalcy after injury.”

He invited fellow retired Green Beret Bobby Dove to join the mission.  Dove, 28, who lost most of his right leg and right arm to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, didn’t hesitate.

“Hell, yeah,” he responded.  “I have not gotten to plant coral.  I’m very excited about it.”

Following their stint as coral farmers, the vets and kids were treated to a barbecue at Mote’s Summerland Key lab.

The mission was supported by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation; the Islander Resort:  A Guy Harvey Outpost; “Protect Our Reefs” license plate; Harbor Graphics and Custom Apparel; Looe Key Dive Center; Strike Zone Charters; Underseas Inc., Rock Bottom Divers; Derby Lane; and Oceanic.

Guy Harvey Magazine Announces Sustainable Seafood Recipe Contest

July 24, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Food PhotographyOur friends at Guy Harvey Magazine are holding a sustainable seafood recipe contest – and you’re invited to participate! The top three winners will receive some really awesome prizes and will have their recipe published in the magazine, so dig through your favorite family recipes and submit your best dish Guy Harvey Magazine Recipe Contest Entry!

We had our ringer, Chef Andy from About Islander Resort, a Guy Harvey Outpost in the Florida Keys, enter with one of his favorite recipes: Lobster Tortellini! He definitely hits all four judging guidelines of the contest: taste, ease of preparation, creativity, and visual appeal. Check out his recipe below – just in time for Florida’s lobster mini-season!

Lobster Tortellini, created by Chef Andy of the Islander Resort, a Guy Harvey Outpost

Ingredients:

Lobster Tails                                        2 each

Butter (room temp)                              3 oz

Chives (chopped)                                1 bundle

Garlic (grated)                                     6 cloves

Wonton Skins                                     12 each

Egg Wash                                            2 oz

Spinach                                                8 oz

Butter                                                   1 lb

Lemons                                               2 each

White Wine                                          1 cup

Lemon Juice                                        2 Tablespoons

Shallot (chopped)                                1 each

Leek                                                    1 each

Oil for Frying

Extra Virgin Olive Oil                            1 Cup

Salt and Pepper                                   Taste

Instructions:

Remove lobster meat from the shells and discard shells.  Place lobster meat, butter, chives in a bowl of food processor.  Zest lemons over bowl to capture all of the essentials oils, reserve lemons.  Pulse the lobster mixture until smooth and all ingredients are combined.  Lay out wonton skins on a flat surface and brush each wonton with egg wash on 2 of the 4 sides.  Divide mixture among each wonton center.  Fold dry side of skin to egg washed side holding the corners on the long edge, pull down and across to form tortelonni, and pinch where the 2 sides meet.  Peel the lemons with a knife and cut out supreme by cutting the section between the membranes, reserve lemons.  Remove the green top from the leek and chop roughly.  Place leeks into pot of boiling water until they turn bright green and then shock in a bowl of ice water.  Remove and wring out all liquids as possible.  Place in the blende along with olive oil and puree until smooth.  Let stand at last an hour and then strain through fine mesh strainer and reserve.  Julienne the white part of the leek and fry in 350 degree oil until golden brown.  Drain on paper towel and reserve.  In a small sauce pan melt 1 tsp of butter add shallots and sweat until tender.  Add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil, reducing by 2/3 and slowly add all but 2 tbs of butter whisking until smooth and all butter is incorporated.  Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and reserve. Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil and in another pan melt remaining butter, add spinach, and cook until wilted adding salt and pepper to taste, divide spinach among four plates and center on plate.  Place tortelonni in boiling water, cook 3 minutes or until they float, remove with a slotted spoon and place three on each plate on top of the spinach.  Arrange three lemon supremes next to each tortelonni, spoon 1 oz of sauce on each plate, drizzle with strained oil and top with fried leeks.  Serve extra sauce on the side.

Guy Harvey Outpost Offers New Luxury Expedition to Panama!

July 21, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Cherin III Image           Having never before caught and released either a blue or black marlin, I really should be heading to Panama pretty soon.  But I can’t, so you should go in my place.

In August and September, the Pacific waters from the Archipelago de Las Perlas south to Pinas Bay in the Gulf of Panama will provide your best shot at battling multiple blues and blacks in a single day. You will be able to chase them pretty much wherever they roam in the region, then hook and fight them in comfort–except, of course, for your sore arms.

Your host is South African adventurer Hennie Marais, operator of Panama Yacht and Fishing Charters– an exclusive Guy Harvey Outpost Expedition.  And he offers a big-game fishing experience like no other.

Your party of up to 12 will eat and sleep in the air-conditioned comfort of a 98-foot luxury Knight & Carver yacht, then head out to the billfish grounds aboard a 66-foot Buddy Davis sportfisher or a 37-foot Strike –or both.

“You go out at 6:00 to 6:30 in the morning.  You fish for live bait.  When you get to the bait grounds, it’s just acres of bonitos and skipjacks,” Marais said.  “Often before you get all your live baits out, you have a black marlin.  And you’re not getting beat up by the sea conditions.  You fish till you’re out of live bait, then troll lures or dead baits for sailfish and blue marlin.  There’s a good opportunity for a grand slam.”

For the non-anglers in your party who want to explore remote island jungles or those who prefer to fish close to shore for roosterfish or Cubera snapper, there’s an 18-foot Mitzi skiff, kayaks, personal watercraft, stand-up paddleboards and a fully-equipped scuba diving center.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime expedition you have to do,” Marais said.  “It’s not just the fishing–it’s the whole destination.”

Ms B Haven IMG_8126

If you can’t make it to Panama for the black-and-blue bite, make plans to charter the mothership in another part of Panama later in the year.  Marais steers the fleet to wherever the fishing is most bountiful or wherever you desire to explore.

January and February in the Las Perlas and Pinas waters are prime for black marlin, tuna, dorado (mahi), wahoo and roosterfish. April through June usually find the mothership plying the Pacific waters around the remote Isla de Coiba, a World Heritage Site in the Gulf of Chiriqui where yellowfin tuna are abundant.  Other options throughout the year are the Bocas Del Toro and  Gulf of San Blas regions in Panama’s Caribbean Sea for family snorkeling and inshore and reef fishing.

“You can take four different trips to Panama and none will be the same,” Marais said.

Phenomenal fishing, lush unexplored jungles, and gourmet food and a stocked wine cellar on board your safari headquarters.  Pretty tempting.

You can book a weeklong or three-day customized package, with all trips beginning in Panama City– about two hours by air from Miami.

But when you board, be on the alert for a stowaway:  me.

Rehabbed Turtle Released off Florida Keys to participate in Tour de Turtles’ Event

July 19, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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11754301_733884743406613_3971705450198939655_o

Photo Courtesy of Andy Newman.

MARATHON, Florida Keys — A rehabilitated loggerhead sea turtle that convalesced about four months at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital was fitted with a satellite-tracking transmitter and released Friday off the Florida Keys.

Named Aaron, the subadult reptile crawled into the Atlantic Ocean in front of several hundred cheering spectators at Marathon’s Sombrero Beach.

It is the only rehabilitated turtle of 12 that is part of the Tour de Turtles initiative created by the Sea Turtle Conservancy.

Beginning Aug. 2, the online education and awareness program will track the reptiles for three months. Turtles will be followed after releases in Panama, Costa Rica, Nevis, W.I. and Florida.

“It’s the sea turtle who goes the furthest distance in three months that wins the marathon and wins the Tour de Turtles,” said Dan Evans, research and technology specialist with the Sea Turtle Conservancy. “The takeaway from the whole program is to really raise awareness about sea turtles, to get people interested in sea turtles through technology and to also let people know what they can do to help protect sea turtles.”

Aaron was discovered floating in a Key Largo boat basin in March. It was treated at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon for an intestinal impaction and parasites in its digestive system with antibiotics, anti-parasitic medications, lactulose, vitamins and a diet of squid and fish

Learn more here:
Tour de Turtles: http://www.tourdeturtles.org
The Turtle Hospital: http://www.turtlehospital.org

Guy Harvey Outpost Initiates “Trash to Treasure” Art Program

July 10, 2015 at 6:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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11707509_946851132049337_3373697342381427908_nWhile a fleet of anglers chased mahi and wahoo in Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts’ Bonfire Tournament on West End, Grand Bahama Island in June, artist Bobby Little stayed behind, keeping very busy at a table in the shade of Old Bahama Bay Resort as part of the “Trash To Treasure” initiative of the Bonfire Series.

One of several artists to be featured in the Guy Harvey Outpost “Trash to Treasure” program, Little used a wet saw and grinder to demonstrate for local artisans and resort guests how to turn waste conch shells into fashion jewelry.

Over a few hours, the piles of discarded shells were crafted into beautiful designs of angelfish, sea turtles, mermaids, pelicans and dolphins.

Guests purchased the finished products for $10 to $20 apiece, with a portion of the proceeds going to local vendors. Spending about $1,300 for tools and supplies, Little says, a Bahamian artisan could set up at a resort and make back his or her investment in about two days.

“One full-size conch shell is worth $300 to $500 when it’s cut into jewelry,” Little said.  “You could create an industry on every island.  Anyone who wants to work can work.  Now you have a product made in the Bahamas you can sell in the Bahamas or you could export.”

The Bonfire Beach Bash & Tournament at Old Bahama Bay featured Little– a 53-year-old Hollywood, Fla. native who has lived on Rum Cay near San Salvador for decades and who doesn’t limit his artistic vision to mounds of conch shells.  On his frequent beach strolls, he collects washed-up plastic and turns it into trinkets; fashions rings out of whelk shells; converts dead coral into candle holders and lamps; and is best known for his dramatic ‘burning’ wahoo and marlin sculptures made of scrap metal.  A 16-foot wahoo filled with flaming palm fronds and smoldering charcoal dramatically lit up the post-tournament Beach Bash. Both the wahoo and marlin are expected to be turned into artificial reefs that create habitat for marine creatures and attract divers.

Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts proposes to launch a series of beach clean-ups combined with fishing and art festivals in the Bahamas and South Florida where artists would collect trash, turn it into something beautiful, and compete for prizes for the best creations.  Proceeds would be put toward ocean conservation.

“It will benefit the artists, the islands– anywhere there’s trash,” Little said. “And there’s such a large demographic that follows Guy Harvey’s name.”

Story by Sue Cocking, Guy Harvey Outpost Staff Writer

Elite Resorts Managers and Guy Harvey Outpost Offer $19.5 million Investment to Develop Okee-Tantie Area

July 7, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Okee Tantie South aerialOn Thursday, July 9th, Elite Resort Managers LLC and Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts & Lodges are presenting a plan to the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners for a three-phase re-development of Okee-Tantie Recreation Area on Lake Okeechobee. The meeting will take place at the Okeechobee County Courthouse, (304 N.W. Second St.) starting at 6PM. Proponents of the project are encouraged to attend the meeting to show their support!

The goal of the plan is to create Lake Okeechobee’s Best Public Recreation & RV Resort Destination. The complete plan will include:

  • 370 new/rebuilt RV Pads & 60 cabins;
    • Restaurant renovation;
    • Marina bar;
    • 75-slip boat barn;
    • Expansion of the marina;
    • Addition of a 40-slip floating dock;
    • Addition of a club lodge, pool and sport amenities; and,
    • Creation of a beach and lagoon.

The concept plan includes three phases.

  • Phase one includes the marina, lodge, cabins and river area RV spaces.
    • Phase two would be the lake section RV resort,
    • Phase three would be the lagoon beach, eco tents, RV storage and the sheriff’s office station.

More details to follow!

Free Lionfish Workshop at Divers Direct July 8th, Fort Lauderdale

June 30, 2015 at 10:08 pm | Posted in Conservation, Diving | Leave a comment
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Divers Direct Lionfish 101

Free Lionfish Workshop

Thursday, July 8, 2015 6:30PM

Our Friends at Divers Direct are hosting a workshop on hunting Lionfish.  Please enlist in the army of divers and diners to help combat this invasive challenge.  If you love the ocean we need your help.
Participants will get an informative briefing on methods of hunting and safe handling while our GearUp Experts share proper gear for safe collecting and handling.

Seating for this popular event is limited,  so call 954-925-7630 to RSVP or stop by Divers Direct Ft. Lauderdale today!

Go here for all the information!

Divers Direct

180 Gulf Stream Way
Dania Beach, FL 33004
954-925-7630

00 GHO-Logo

For more on the Guy Harvey Outpost Portfolio: http://www.guyharveyoutpost.com/
For Fishing with Guy Harvey Outpost: www.ghofish.com
For the Guy Harvey Outpost Blog www.guyharveyoutpostnews.com
For Guy Harvey Outpost on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GuyHarveyOutpost
For Guy Harvey Outpost on Twitter https://twitter.com/GHOutpost

Lassoing Tigers by the Tail

June 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

1934055_121444225965_813001_nBy Sue Cocking | Guy Harvey Outpost

It looked more like the marine version of a rodeo than a scientific expedition in the clear, shallow waters of Tiger Beach off West End, Grand Bahama Island in the spring of 2009.  Dr. Guy Harvey– renowned marine artist, scientist, conservationist and cinematographer–and a handful of colleagues were trying to capture a 9 1/2 -foot tiger shark– one of several for which the shoal was named– so they could implant it with an acoustic transmitter tag.  The tag emits a signature beep that is picked up by an underwater receiver installed in the area. Whenever a tagged shark passes within 300-500 meters of the receiver, it stores the signal to be downloaded onto a computer.  So far, the shark had successfully eluded the scientists, but they weren’t giving up.

Not nearly as high-tech as today’s satellite tracking tags, which can follow a shark’s moment-by-moment travel for up to several years, acoustic tags are nonetheless useful, showing when and how often an animal uses a specific area.  They are also a lot cheaper than the $3,500 satellite tag.

“We should tag every one of these animals to see where they go,” Harvey said.  “The ultimate would be to have the species protected or–if not– this area of the Bahama Bank could be designated no shark fishing.  This is the beginning of what will hopefully be a 20-year study where we involve the Bahamian government, researchers from various institutions, dive operators.”

Eventually, Harvey– along with Dr. Mahmood Shivji, professor and director of Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute and their fellow researchers–managed to lasso their target underwater, bring it to the dive platform of their boat and implant the tag in its belly.  It swam away smartly.

Fast-forward six years to 2015 and you’ll find that Harvey’s tiger shark research and conservation efforts have reaped a handsome return.  Expanding well beyond the Bahamas, recent long-term satellite tagging data reported in the June 9 issue of the journal Scientific Reports details previously unknown migration patterns covering thousands of miles between completely different ecosystems.

The study– led by Nova Southeastern University scientists James Lea, Brad Wetherbee and Shivji and co-authored by Harvey– found that tigers tagged in Bermuda travelled more than 7,500 kilometers round-trip between the open waters of the mid-North Atlantic and the coral reefs of the Bahamas and Caribbean each year.  Like snowbirds, the male sharks spent winters in warm waters, headed as far north as Connecticut in summer, then returned to the same favorite winter hang-outs in the tropics.

One shark named Harry Lindo covered the longest tracked distance–27,000 miles– ever documented for a tiger.

For Harvey, Shivji and the other scientists, the findings have profound implications for tiger shark conservation.  The animals, listed as near-threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, are protected from harvest in Bahamian and Florida waters.  But as a target in the lucrative shark fin soup trade, they don’t enjoy the same safe haven in other waters where they travel.

Said Harvey:  “Understanding how these animals use the oceans is the first step toward effective conservation.  Protecting migratory species is a great challenge because they can be found in such a wide area.  Protecting  the areas where animals such as tiger sharks spend the most time is a tractable goal once those areas have been identified.”

To track the movement of the tiger sharks tagged by the Guy Harvey Research Institute, visit the GHRI shark tracking web site.

Take 10 Lionfish, Get an Extra Lobster During Sport Season

June 29, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Abaco, Guy Harvey, Guy Harvey Magazine, Guy Harvey Outpost Ltd. | Leave a comment
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Lionfish-Being-Netted_359x479At its June meeting in Sarasota, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a new and exciting opportunity that will encourage divers to remove invasive lionfish by allowing them to take one extra spiny lobster each day during the two-day sport season this summer (July 29-30) that they also harvest 10 lionfish.

In addition, people can take a photo of their lionfish and lobster catch during the two-day season and post it on Facebook.com/LionfishReefRangers to get a “Be the Predator” T-shirt. One lucky photo entrant will also win a lifetime saltwater fishing license via a drawing held shortly after the sport season.

“The FWC operates in a culture of innovation. Opportunities like this are a great way to get divers who are already in the water accustomed to removing lionfish,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski. “Our hope is that once lobster divers realize how easy it is to remove lionfish, they will continue to do so throughout the regular lobster season and beyond.”

Lionfish are invasive species that have a potential negative impact on Florida’s native wildlife and habitat. With no predators or other mechanisms such as disease or parasites keeping the lionfish population under control in Florida at this time, harvest by divers is the primary means of lionfish removal.

For the 2015 spiny lobster sport season only, divers will be allowed a single spiny lobster over the bag limit per dayfor each day that they also harvest 10 or more lionfish. Lionfish must be kept as proof of harvest while on the water. When off the water, a photo of harvesters with their 10 lionfish must be kept to document eligibility for harvesting an extra lobster. Lionfish must be harvested the same day and prior to taking the additional lobster. All other rules, including no spearfishing zones, apply.

The two-day spiny lobster recreational sport season (also known as mini-season) falls on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July each year before the Aug. 6 opening of the regular season. During this two-day season, the regular bag limit is six spiny lobster in state and federal waters of Biscayne National Park waters and off Monroe County, and 12 spiny lobster elsewhere. There is no bag limit for lionfish; harvesters can take as many as they want.

If the program is successful at encouraging lionfish removal, it could be continued in future years.

For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings” then the “Agenda.” For information about recreational spiny lobster, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational” and “Lobster.”

Help the FWC by reporting all lionfish catches and sightings via the Report Florida Lionfish app or at MyFWC.com/Lionfish.

This article appears courtesy of Guy Harvey Magazine

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