Technical divers Wayne Meaden, Mike Gascoigne and Graham Maddocks of the Ocean Support Foundation approach the Natural Arch cave that is guarded by lionfish - depth 200ft. *Photos by Ondrej Hindl/Ocean Support Foundation
Technical divers Wayne Meaden, Mike Gascoigne and Graham Maddocks of the Ocean Support Foundation approach the Natural Arch cave that is guarded by lionfish - depth 200ft. *Photos by Ondrej Hindl/Ocean Support Foundation
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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4: The threat of invasive lionfish to our native fish species is to be documented in an hour-long documentary.

The film follows the formative months of environmental charity the Ocean Support Foundation set up in August to research the extent of the threat and the best methods of catching lionfish. The foundation now has a team of six deep divers who have been scouring the ocean floor to depths of 200 feet looking for “hot spots” while setting lobster traps donated by the government.

The charity, launched by Triangle Diving owner Graham Maddox, has completed a 15-minute version of the film to show to potential sponsors and investors who they will be approaching soon as part of a fundraising drive.

Lionfish are believed to have invaded Bermuda’s shores mainly by way of private aquariums emptied into the ocean. They are armed with a voracious and indiscriminate appetite and feed on small and juvenile fish by the scores. With no known natural predators in the Atlantic their numbers have been exploding in the Bahamas, north Caribbean countries and along the east coast of America. Now they are in Bermuda it is feared the same will happen here.

The deep divers have been hauling in large numbers of lionfish on spear alone but are now trying to hold back for a period as they experiment with the lobster traps. The film will show footage of deep reefs that are sprawling with lionfish.

According to Mr Maddox, the dive team have encountered hundreds of lionfish: “I have shown people footage from this film who are aware of the problem and they say ‘Oh my God I had no idea it was so bad’. We can literally go out and catch 80 of them in two dives on spear but we are trying to get them to go into the traps. We went to one spot — a coral reef on its own about 24ft by 13 ft big — was jam packed with lionfish. We killed three or four but we held back so we could experiment with the traps.”

Ryan Craig, a dive instructor with Triangle Diving, shot and edited the majority of the high-definition film while some interviews were shot by LookTV. He said he aims to enter the film into one of the local film festivals and making it available for purchase in local stores.

Mr Craig said: “The film is about raising awareness of the invasion of lionfish in Bermuda’s waters and getting people aware of the foundation itself. We have mentioned showing it in local schools and we also plan to share it overseas.

“There are interviews with Graham Maddox and Chris Flook (charity board member) who talks about the traps and the biology of the lionfish. We also found someone who claims to have seen the first lionfish in Bermuda so we have interviewed him.”

A trailer of the film is available on the “Ocean Support Foundation” Facebook page.

The Ocean Support Foundation is also about to go live with its website www.oceansupport.org which will allow members of the public to post sightings of lionfish on to a Google Map.

Anyone interested in helping or donating or looking for more information should visit www.oceansupport.org or call 704-5406. Address is: 4th Floor Phase II, Washington Mall, 22 Church Street, Hamilton, Bermuda. HM12. Email osfmail@oceansupport.org

Bermuda Sun’s detailed coverage of the lionfish situation