Close encounters of the shark kind - or how to turn your wetsuit brown in 2 seconds

So lionfish are a problem in the Caribbean and Atlantic basins. They are an invasive species and there are active programs approved by environmentally conscious organizations to encouraging scuba divers to cull lionfish. Lionfish have voracious appetites and can wipe out the juvenile population of reef fish.

Larger reef fish in the Caribbean do not view lionfish as a food species… at least not while they are alive, as this lionfish hunter found out.

Shark video

Video was shot with a mask mounted GoPro camera, similar to this one during a dive near The BlowHoles in the High Rock area of East End on Grand Cayman.

** Fair disclosure here. The diver is a student of a friend of a friend of mine. I’ve never met him nor his dive instructor who knows my friend.

I’m getting nothing out of this. The diver has set up the video on an account with Google ads and gets some small amount per view. Apparently he has already had press inquiries from major media outlets, so this will get around in a few days anyway.

Someone should splice in some audio of Harry Potter saying “Expecto Patronum!” when the diver is fending off the shark.

What type of shark is that?

Looks like a blacktip shark. Wiki. They are little, timid and eat fish. If that was an experienced diver, I can’t imagine him overreacting like that. Brush them out of your way and go on with what you’re doing.

(Blacktip sharks and blacktip reef sharks are the prettiest ones in the ocean IMO.)

It actually was a Caribbean Reef Shark (Carcharhinus perezi) which are the predominate shark species here. Looks about 6ft long based on my experience.

I love all the “FAKE!!! CGI!!!” comments.

Yeah… it’s not CGI.

It was shot with a relatively cheap digital camera. It is going to lag a bit when filming something moving that fast.

Well, it’s not just that. Like who in the hell would fake something like that? Between the detailed description in the Youtube explaining what happened and an interesting, but relatively undramatic video of a shark approaching and possibly attacking, it’s not something that makes any sense to me to fake. It’s just so clearly and obviously not fake to me.

But gotta love the “it’s a 'shop I can tell by the pixels” crowd.

Hey! They’re easy to deal with!

You just put them in a trance!

Maybe you didn’t notice, but he’s carrying a bucket of the dead and dying lionfish. That is, he’s carrying “food” that that shark would normally go for. This is why the shark is so persistent.

I would not say he “overreacted” in any way. In fact, I think he showed great restraint in only “poking” the shark to dissuade him. “Overreacting” would have been actually “spearing” (using the bands) the shark - that would have been inexcusable.

The whole fact that this guy was out culling the lionfish really pisses me off. Some idiots decided to introduce this non-native species into the carribean, and now its disrupting the ecosystem enough that this “culling” is required to try to keep it in check.

The lionfish is native to the Indo-Pacific but has spread along the east coast of the United States and throughout much of the Caribbean over the last couple decades.

It was once thought that most lionfish in the Atlantic basin descended from a small handful that were released from aquarium damaged by the power of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It now seems that may not be correct. They might have slowly been spreading for more than a decade before that.

Now if such an invasive species capable of such tremendous damage to local habitat could be released to the wild by a hurricane then that needs to go into the emergency plan that such zoos and aquaria put in place. Do you preemptively kill the problem species? Move it to temporary quarters ahead of a storm? or what?

Nevertheless, the impact of the lionfish on Caribbean reefs has been dramatic. They wipe out native juvenile fish populations. There are no indigenous predators in the Caribbean that hunt lionfish.

Efforts to train the local predator fish to target lionfish may be partly responsible for the behaviour witnessed in the linked video. Alas it seems the sharks are instead making a correlation with divers and food instead of seeking out living lionfish as prey.

How do they kill the lionfish? If the guy has a bucket of dying fish, that indicates they don’t just chuck 'em onto dry land to gasp their last, but that they kill them while still underwater.

The lionfish are speared by divers.

If left underwater the lionfish will most likely succumb to their wounds. At which point local fish will eat them. Apparently some divers do dispatch them while underwater by using an implement, a knife or another spear perhaps, to severe the spine.

If brought to the surface I suppose they will suffocate like any fish removed from water.