John Clay Dickinson and Rachel McGinnis of Palm Beach are marine experts and co-owners of Florida Scuba Divers. The pair is well-known for their contribution to lionfish removal efforts and have even earned recognition from Rick Scott, former Florida governor, for the number of fish they’ve removed from the reef each year.
More than a supplies store, Florida Scuba Divers is a venue through which John Clay Dickinson and Rachel McGinnis educate the public on ways to create a healthier and more harmonious marine environment. This, of course, includes lionfish removal.
John Dickinson of Palm Beach explained that lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific, were likely brought to the U.S. southeast coast, Caribbean, and parts of the Gulf of Mexico by humans. It is possible that, in part, the issue was caused by people dumping unwanted fish from aquariums into the ocean.
Because they’re not native, lionfish have very few natural predators and have become vastly overpopulated. John Dickinson of Palm Beach explained that, like any invasive species with a population of this scale, they’re a serious threat to the native ecosystem, capable of reducing biodiversity, consuming resources previously available for native organisms, and potentially driving native species to extinction. Being carnivorous, they also threaten Florida’s fishing economy as they feed on young commercial fish species such as grouper and snapper.
Here’s what John Clay Dickson and Rachel McGinnis of Palm Beach say you can do to contribute to the lionfish eradication effort:
-Eat lionfish at local restaurants: An increasing number of restaurants are serving lionfish on the menu as a means of getting these fish out of the water without letting them go to waste. The fish, John Dickinson of Palm Beach said, tastes just like snapper or even better than hogfish, popular Floridian fishing experts. The marine conservationist warns, however, that while the spines are not poisonous they do carry a venom that can be painful if stuck. Protective gloves should be worn while handling these fish.
-Join a community clean-up event: Florida Scuba Divers participates in several clean-up events every year in coordination with other marine conservation organizations. Stop by the shop or visit the website to learn about upcoming events. There are even derbies and tournaments with awards for the most lionfish collected.
-Be a lionfish reporter: The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) needs to be up to date on where lionfish are spreading and how fast, in addition to how many are successfully being removed. They’ve launched the Report Florida Lionfish app, which you can download and use to share info about lionfish sightings and removals. You can also share information at MyFWC.com/fishing. Interested in participating in a Lionfish Challenge checkpoint? Contact Lionfish@MyFWC.com for more information and instructions. Florida Scuba Divers is a dropoff location for FWC Lionfish Challenges throughout the year.
More on Florida Scuba Divers
Florida Scuba Divers is the North Palm Beach’s one-stop-shop for all things SCUBA, with a broad range of products, from dive suits to gear, and offerings of e-learning and certifications for divers of all levels. Within one year in business, John Clay Dickinson and Rachel McGinnis are proud to have served countless customers. The co-owners have inspired a love of SCUBA in numerous newcomers, in addition to sharing their expertise and enthusiasm with fellow advanced divers. With a dedication to quality, education, and customer service, it’s no wonder the shop has already earned 132 well-earned five-star reviews from customers via Google Business Reviews as of December. This December, the shop celebrates its one-year anniversary.
For more information about Florida Scuba Divers, visit the website: https://www.floridascubadivers.com/ or follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/floridascubadivers/ or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dive561.270.5788/