Spotlight ~ Elk and Lions Found in Carriacou?!

After dropping our guests in Hillsborough, Carriacou, Frank and I spent some time relaxing and reorganizing LIB. We strolled the streets in Hillsborough, bought some groceries, wandered into different places and simply recharged our batteries.

One stop we made was at the Deefer Dive Shop on the main street, north of the ferry dock. We were most impressed with all the staff at Deefer, especially when we learned of their efforts to combat lionfish and restore the elkhorn coral on local reefs.

Deefer has a few biologists on staff and they, along with others, have started an elkhorn nursery about 20 feet below the water off of Sandy Island. They are growing elkhorn, then transplanting it in an attempt to revitalize the reefs.


The Deefer crew are also trying to combat the spread of lionfish.  These beautiful fish are actually quite threatening. They have up to 18 dorsal fins that are sharp as needles and deliver poison.  The sting is very painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing problems, though it is rarely fatal.

Lionfish are native to Indo-Pacific but have become a problem in the Atlantic Ocean. They prey on smaller fish and shrimp and have very few predators. As a result, lionfish are spreading rapidly and are negatively affecting reef life.


Lionfish; exotic but harmful ~ Image from Flylife Magazine

About once a week, Deefer Dive conducts a lionfish hunt and Frank was able to go on this dive. Lionfish do not move much and are easy to spear, but care must be taken when removing them from the spear so the diver doesn’t get stung.

Deefer Diving is working to create pressure on the lionfish around Carriacou by educating fisherman about how to kill and safely capture the lionfish and by encouraging restaurants to serve lionfish on the menu. Finally, Deefer supports free demonstrations of how to make jewelry from lionfish and encourages local artists to sell the jewelry.

Frank and I went on a two tank dive trip with Deefer and saw schools of fish, several sting rays, lobster and eels. We also saw the underwater elkhorn nursery and a few of the dreaded lionfish. The diving was some of the best we have seen in the Caribbean and it was encouraging see some healthy reefs.


Newbie lionfish hunters on the loose.

Here is the shirt I bought at Deefer Diving. You can see from my shirt that Deefer is working with Caribbean Reef Buddy, an organization that works with local communities on coral reef and marine conservation projects.  Frank and I have jumped on the bandwagon and hope to do some lionfish hunting on our own if we can manage to get a spear.

We left Hillsborough and went around the corner to Tyrrel Bay which is a popular harbor in Carriacou. Tyrrel is a large, well protected bay that is crowded with boats, many of which appear to be neglected or even abandoned.  Although Tyrrel Bay is the more popular anchorage, I preferred Hillsborough for on-shore exploring.

However, one of the best meals we have had in the Caribbean was at The Lazy Turtle in Tyrrel Bay. I had a fabulous pizza: plenty of cheese and tomato sauce, which is often lacking in pizza down here.  Ironically, LIONFISH  was the special of the evening when we ate at The Lazy Turtle.  Frank decided to try the speial. We were skeptical, but the fish had an excellent flavor and texture.  It was served in a rosemary and honey sauce and every last bite was eaten.

Our time in Carriacou was all about rest as we were pretty tired after two solid weeks of kiteboarding. But after a few days, the wind was beginning to look “kite-able” again, so we decided to leave Carriacou and head north toward Union Island.

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