Our local turtle haven will shift gears this weekend to focus on lionfish.
At the first annual Lionfish Festival at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, guests can learn all about the invasive species native to the waters of the Indian Ocean and South Pacific. The venomous fish are among the top predators in coral reefs and were likely introduced to the Atlantic through aquariums or humans releasing their pets.
The free event, taking place Sunday, Aug. 14, from noon to 4 p.m., will offer a culinary competition with guest chefs cooking up lionfish samples, holding lionfish filet demonstrations, giving out free lionfish ceviche and more. (Don’t worry; when cooked properly, the fish offer a buttery white meat.)
In addition, guests can expect live music, a children’s craft area, a VIP area and Turtle Yard tours.
The festival will be held in conjunction with Reef Environmental Education Foundation’s Lionfish Derby, in which teams catch as many lionfish as possible to help clear area waters of the invasive species. The derby, hosted by REEF annually, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 13.
“We support their mission and look forward to this collaboration to further promote ocean conservation and spread invasive species awareness,” said Tommy Cutt, Loggerhead’s chief conservation officer.
Through all of these activities, REEF and Loggerhead are hoping to give the community a fun day outdoors while spreading awareness about the dangers of the exotic pet trade, Cutt said.
Guests can purchase a $45 VIP access pass for the Culinary Competition here. The ticket lets attendees sample the lionfish cuisine, vote for the best lionfish dish, and drink two Lagunitas beers.
Registration for the derby is $120 for a two- to four-person team.
Photo courtesy Loggerhead Marinelife Center