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Dead Fish Pop Up at Hol Chan

Ambergris Today was the first media to break the story about the dangerous Lionfish and its trek from the United States to the Caribbean back in September of last year. And a couple weeks ago we published the reports of the first sighting of the “Reef Killer” in the Belizean waters, particularly at the Turneffe Atoll.

This week we received a particular email of dead fish found at Hol Chan by our good friend Carlos Ayala, of Carlos Tours in Caye Caulker, which left us a bit worried and wondering if the “Reef Killer” had reached the Hol Chan area, so we contacted the Hol Chan Marine Reserve Office to inquire about this situation.

Miguel Alamilla, Marine Biologist of Hol Chan Marine Reserve, explained to us that this was not the first report of dead fish found in the area and that they had received a few dead fish including two baby turtles from local tour guides.

“The fish we received had no visible signs of injury so we performed an autopsy and were able to find that there were a few small fish in the stomachs of the dead fish and in one of the turtles,” commented Alamilla. “The small fish were identified as sharp-nose puffer fish, which are very toxic and deadly when consumed by other marine creatures.”

Mr. Alamilla stated that there is currently a massive recruitment of these fish, the sharp-nose puffer fish, and although they are toxic, they are not a threat to the area even though this is a time when their reproduction is at a peak. The Sharp-nose puffer fish are about 2-3½ inches in length and can be found in 5-100ft of depth in the reef; they are carnivorous and are very toxic.

Another Lion Fish sighting

In respect to the reef killer, there has been another sighting of the Lionfish on Friday, January 23, at the Glover’s Reef Atoll. “We are sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but we just received a confirmed report of a Lionfish sighting at Glover’s Reef,” stated the email we received here at Ambergris Today.

The Lionfish was sighted by Kitty Luk from Isla Marisol at a dive site called Midway, half way between Southwest Caye and Middle Caye on the east side of Glover’s. The fish was 5-6 inches long and was sighted just at the drop off at about 50 feet. According to Kitty her efforts to capture the Lion Fish were unsuccessful and it is still somewhere out there. This is the third reported sighting of Lionfish in Belize. In late December the Sun Dancer live aboard sighted and photographed a Lionfish at Turneffe Atoll.

Mr. Alamilla would like to ask for tour guides and fishermen to kindly turn in any dead or stranded fish, turtle, manatee or dolphin to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve at 226-2247 and as for the Lion Fish, if there is any sighting of it he urges people to report the exact location and if possible to capture or kill the deadly Lionfish.

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