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Lionfish problem in the Caribbean and sharks

I wrote an article about the lionfish problem in the Caribbean and whether divers should kill them.

I've spent many a dive in Barbados where we have killed loads of lionfish and taken them back for the locals to eat. I've also done the same in Antigua.

I remember in Antigua where my colleague had a lionfish on the end of his spear, where a reef shark came and took it. The shark was circling us, which was clearly interested in eating the lionfish.

I found this pretty exhilarating at the time and we talked about this for much of the rest of the trip on the dive boat.

However, the debate goes on as to whether this is safe practice. The dive master on this boat trip in Antigua wasn't too keen on killing lionfish, but especially not to feed them to sharks. She has a point, especially when you watch the video below.

I hadn't completely appreciated the danger of feeding sharks, until I came across this video in the Cayman Islands. In the video below you'll see how this scuba diver is attacked by a reef shark when he's spearing a lionfish.

One of the mistakes he makes is it appears that he's scuba diving alone. This is completely against what is taunt during scuba diver training. Had he had a buddy his buddy may have spotted the in-coming shark to warn him before the attack.

This diver is also lucky that the shark concerned is a relatively small reef shark. Had it been much large, he may not have survived to tell the tale and share his video on YouTube.

Had that been me, I would have given the shark the lionfish from the end of the spear and not tried to put it into the lionfish safe. But that's easy for me to say when I'm simply watching a video, not so easy when you're under attack!

Could this incident be due to shark feeding? Or is this a one-off incident? I'm not too sure.

The moral of the story is to be careful though. Have your wits about you when spearing fish on reefs, whether this is lionfish or otherwise, as sharks are attracted by fish in distress or when they've been injured.

Don't let this video or this article put you off from scuba diving or from wanting to scuba dive with sharks. The chances of an unprovoked attack by sharks when scuba diving is very low.

But the chances of an attack are increased when there's provocation, which in this case the provocation is using a spear and killing fish. By spear fishing, you are providing a stimulus for sharks. So expect a reaction, as this is natural to them to hunt down wounded prey.

The original article about the lionfish problem in the Caribbean is here:

Learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow...
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