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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Lionfish continue to be a threat in the Gulf

Lionfish continue to threaten other species of fish in the Gulf.
They feed on young fish, including snapper and grouper.

Since lionfish were first spotted in our area in 2010 the population has grown exponentially making the problem even worse.

That's because one female lionfish lays about 2-million eggs in a year and the lionfish has no natural predators.

Just last week a dive team shot video of dozens of lionfish in the Gulf about 20 miles south of Pensacola Pass.

One diver says the animals have become a big problem in our area.
Some call lionfish the bullies of the gulf  with their prickly spines that pack a venomous sting, they scare a lot of other fish away.
But, they might want to watch out for these guys.
Diver Clint Retherford and Photographer Scott Bartel have been heading out to the gulf on some special hunting trips.

Clint Retherford, Diver:  "The most efficient way to capture them is to Spearfish for them. Divers have to go down and spear them."
During this particular voyage Retherford says they killed and bagged 56 fish.
On one of their past expeditions they snagged more than 100.
Retherford says the lionfish just keep breeding.
Clint Retherford, Diver: "They're not scared of anything. They sit right there, you shoot one, you shoot one right next to it. They have no natural predators."
Retherford and divers like him are not just doing this for fun, although he admits lionfish are actually pretty tasty.

"They're excellent, very good to eat. Yes, sir. I would put them close to a Flounder."
lionfish are an invasive species, meaning they don't belong anywhere near us.
By removing them from the gulf, Retherford and his fellow divers are actually performing a much needed service, according to fish and wildlife authorities.
They're also helping researchers at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Clint Retherford, Diver: "We've been doing it about a year now to get a good scientific sampling. When they record the time, the date, the water temperature, how many fish were on it and as part of the research, we're required to kill every lionfish that's on that particular reef."