Education: Visitors check out the new lionfish exhibit at Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. BUEI is looking for guides for the show — anyone can volunteer. *Photo by Laura Gorham
Education: Visitors check out the new lionfish exhibit at Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. BUEI is looking for guides for the show — anyone can volunteer. *Photo by Laura Gorham

The lionfish invasion is not going away any time soon and a new exhibition aims to ensure we don’t forget it. 

The Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute has teamed up with the Lionfish Task Force to help publicise the ugly truth about lionfish.  The institute is looking for volunteers and is holding a volunteer social today and training session tomorrow at BUEI. All are welcome.

BUEI’s volunteer co-ordinator Taylor Gorham said she hoped to get those who do not know much about the problem involved. 

Native to the Indo Pacific, lionfish are believed to have made their way into Bermuda waters by way of home aquariums being emptied into the ocean. With no natural predators, a high breeding rate and an insatiable appetite lionfish are believed to be harming local fish populations. 

It is well documented that they have decimated fish populations in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the Western Atlantic. Bermuda could be next. They have been known to reduce populations of small fishes on a reef by nearly 90 per cent in as little as five weeks.

The Bermuda Sun spoke with BUEI’s volunteer co-ordinator Taylor Gorham about the exhibition and volunteer drive. 

What do you hope to achieve out of this exhibition?

I hope to get non-expert, non-scientist, non-divers involved in marine conservation. To all the people that are interested in conservation but feel they don’t have anything to contribute, I want to say — you can make a difference too. 

BUEI is recruiting volunteer tour guides who will help tackle Bermuda’s lionfish problem from the side of education. Having a docent to bring lionfish material to life will motivate people to learn more about lionfish and to spread what they know throughout the community.  The more people who are educated about lionfish, the better Bermuda will be equipped to deal with this threat as an on going conservation management issue. 

Who can apply to become a docent for this exhibition?

Anyone can apply to be a docent. You don’t need to be an expert or even know anything about lionfish to sign up to be a docent. We will teach you everything you need to know about lionfish through the docent training process. 

The beauty of having non-experts giving tours is that they can explain everything about lionfish in a way that makes sense to the average tourist or visitor. 

Understanding the scientific jargon is great if you want to help with research, but at BUEI anyone and everyone can help fight lionfish by sharing information about them in plain Bermudian. 

How can the general public/diving community help with the lionfish problem?

Spear fishing is a great way to get rid of lionfish, but for those of us who don’t have scuba gear you can always help through education. 

Spreading accurate information throughout the community is vital so that we can support efforts by the Lionfish Task Force or by government to kill lionfish on a large scale.  

It can be as simple coming in to see the new lionfish exhibit at BUEI, or reading some articles on the Ocean Support Foundation website, or as much as signing up to be a tour guide. Every little counts.

Anyone interested in volunteering as a lionfish exhibition tour guide are invited to attend the volunteer drive this evening at 6pm to 7pm or tomorrow  from 11am to 1pm. Friday is the lionfish education volunteer tour guide and social while Saturday is the actual training session. 

Anyone who can not make the events can still become a volunteer by contacting Taylor Gorham at volunteers@buei.org or call 294-0206.