80.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, August 18, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSt. Thomas Teen Bags Two Lionfish

St. Thomas Teen Bags Two Lionfish

Sean LaPlace pictured with the two lionfish he captured.St. Thomas resident Sean LaPlace, 17, was following a damsel fish as he snorkeled through the Cas Cay/Mangrove Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary and Marine Reserve when he flipped over a rock and spotted a lionfish on Tuesday.
He was waiting for some divers to come and capture the fish, but when they were slow to arrive, he did the job himself on Wednesday.
As if that wasn’t enough, Thursday he spotted another lionfish about 10 feet from where he got the first one.
“I shoved it into a tub and covered it with a CD case,” he said, explaining how he captured those two lionfish.
LaPlace, who graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in June and is headed toward college or the U.S. Air Force come spring, is a lead guide at V.I. Ecotours.
“He’s an amazing kid, and I’m really proud of him,” V.I. Ecotours owner Sybille Sorrentino said.
LaPlace is no stranger to environmental issues. In 2009 he received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Quality Award for his efforts at protecting the environment, and knows a lot about the dangers lionfish pose.
“They can decimate a reef population,” he said.
The two lionfish, which LaPlace named Dick Cheney and Mussolini because they looked like “grumpy old fish,” have a new home in the aquarium at the Friends of V.I. National Park store in Mongoose Junction shopping center in Cruz Bay, St. John.
While the Fish and Wildlife Division of the Planning and Natural Resources Department has recorded a total of 144 lionfish caught across the territory, the division’s lionfish expert, William Coles, said that number is lower than the actual count because fishermen are catching and killing them on the spot.
Of the total figure recorded since the first lionfish was caught in November 2008, Coles said 110 were on St. Croix, 30 on St. Thomas and four on St. John.
He urged anyone who spots a lionfish to mark the spot and report it to Fish and Wildlife.
Coles has come up with a handy marker to carry while snorkeling or swimming. Tie about four feet of emergency tape (similar to that used at crime scenes) to a washer of the size used with a three-quarter-inch bolt. Tie the other end to a wine bottle cork. When the fish is spotted, plant the device in the water washer side down. If the spot is marked, Coles said he can find the fish in about five minutes.
Coles suggested that people who see lionfish leave the capture to experts because they can get stung by the lionfish’s spines.
“Don’t try and catch it unless you have training,” he said.
Soon after the first lionfish was caught, Fish and Wildlife, as well as other agencies and dive companies, launched an education campaign in hopes of getting those who spot one to call it in. It appears to be successful.
“I just got a call from a tourist from Denmark who looked us up on the web,” he said.
The fish, native to the Indo-Pacific region, are popular with aquarium owners.
They infiltrated the Atlantic Ocean (and now the Caribbean) after Hurricane Andrew devastated south Florida in 1992. People dumped aquarium contents into the ocean because they didn’t have any electricity to keep the aquariums running. Divers first spotted them off Florida in 1994.
If you see a lionfish, call Fish and Wildlife at 643-0800.
View complete instructions on making the lionfish markers at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHzpm2zeTL0

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more

Sean LaPlace pictured with the two lionfish he captured.St. Thomas resident Sean LaPlace, 17, was following a damsel fish as he snorkeled through the Cas Cay/Mangrove Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary and Marine Reserve when he flipped over a rock and spotted a lionfish on Tuesday.
He was waiting for some divers to come and capture the fish, but when they were slow to arrive, he did the job himself on Wednesday.
As if that wasn’t enough, Thursday he spotted another lionfish about 10 feet from where he got the first one.
“I shoved it into a tub and covered it with a CD case,” he said, explaining how he captured those two lionfish.
LaPlace, who graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in June and is headed toward college or the U.S. Air Force come spring, is a lead guide at V.I. Ecotours.
“He’s an amazing kid, and I’m really proud of him,” V.I. Ecotours owner Sybille Sorrentino said.
LaPlace is no stranger to environmental issues. In 2009 he received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Quality Award for his efforts at protecting the environment, and knows a lot about the dangers lionfish pose.
“They can decimate a reef population,” he said.
The two lionfish, which LaPlace named Dick Cheney and Mussolini because they looked like “grumpy old fish,” have a new home in the aquarium at the Friends of V.I. National Park store in Mongoose Junction shopping center in Cruz Bay, St. John.
While the Fish and Wildlife Division of the Planning and Natural Resources Department has recorded a total of 144 lionfish caught across the territory, the division’s lionfish expert, William Coles, said that number is lower than the actual count because fishermen are catching and killing them on the spot.
Of the total figure recorded since the first lionfish was caught in November 2008, Coles said 110 were on St. Croix, 30 on St. Thomas and four on St. John.
He urged anyone who spots a lionfish to mark the spot and report it to Fish and Wildlife.
Coles has come up with a handy marker to carry while snorkeling or swimming. Tie about four feet of emergency tape (similar to that used at crime scenes) to a washer of the size used with a three-quarter-inch bolt. Tie the other end to a wine bottle cork. When the fish is spotted, plant the device in the water washer side down. If the spot is marked, Coles said he can find the fish in about five minutes.
Coles suggested that people who see lionfish leave the capture to experts because they can get stung by the lionfish’s spines.
“Don’t try and catch it unless you have training,” he said.
Soon after the first lionfish was caught, Fish and Wildlife, as well as other agencies and dive companies, launched an education campaign in hopes of getting those who spot one to call it in. It appears to be successful.
“I just got a call from a tourist from Denmark who looked us up on the web,” he said.
The fish, native to the Indo-Pacific region, are popular with aquarium owners.
They infiltrated the Atlantic Ocean (and now the Caribbean) after Hurricane Andrew devastated south Florida in 1992. People dumped aquarium contents into the ocean because they didn't have any electricity to keep the aquariums running. Divers first spotted them off Florida in 1994.
If you see a lionfish, call Fish and Wildlife at 643-0800.
View complete instructions on making the lionfish markers at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHzpm2zeTL0