Members of the Watershed Society, the Aquarium’s top donor circle, were invited to a special Seaside Salon educational event, titled “Lionfish: An Invasive Delicacy.” A benefit of the Watershed Society, this event aimed to expose guests to a greater conservation issue that affects the Lowcountry and beyond – the growing lionfish populations up and down most of the eastern coastline.
Guests had the opportunity to learn the basics about the origins of lionfish species, but more importantly, of their severe impact in the Atlantic – an area that they are not native to, but are quickly overpopulating. Aquarist Sally Behrend, who handles the care of our lionfish on exhibit, and Senior Biologist Arnold Postell, who has extensive diving experience with lionfish collection and removal, gave guests an in-depth synopsis of this invasive species, which has no natural predators and is depleting the fish and other marine life in our waters. “We can trace the lionfish invasion back to just nine specimens. It doesn’t matter at this point how they got into our coastal waters, but rather what we can do now to decrease their impact on reefs and marine environments,” Arnold said. Guests also enjoyed a taste of the white, flaky-fish in a delicious dish created by Chef Drew Hedlund from Fleet Landing Restaurant, who consistently serves lionfish on his menu when available.
As it turns out, there are many things that we as consumers can do to make a difference. Shelley Dearheart, the Aquarium’s Good Catch Manager, explained the importance of using lionfish as a sustainable seafood option. We are beginning to see lionfish on more of our local restaurant menus. Wholesale fisheries, such as Norman’s Lionfish, are available for consumers to purchase lionfish in bulk.
The evening culminated with a lionfish fillet demo performed by Chef Drew. By giving guests the skills and tools to perform this in the comfort of their home, guests can now play an active role in combatting this growing lionfish problem, and educate others to do the same.
If you would like to learn more, or become involved with the Watershed Society to enjoy exclusive opportunities such as this, please contact Sarah Burnheimer at [email protected] or (843)579-8595.