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In one weekend they hunted nearly 20,000 wings!

In just one weekend, 16-19 May, divers caught 19,167 wingfish! The hunt took place in Florida and is the largest tournament of its kind organised anywhere in the world. To take part in the event, divers from all over the USA and the Caribbean descended on the site. The emerald waters off the coast of
Published: May 30, 2019 - 20:16
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 18:16
In one weekend they hunted nearly 20,000 wings!

In just one weekend, 16-19 May, divers caught 19,167 wingfish! The hunt took place in Florida and is the largest tournament of its kind organised anywhere in the world. To take part in the event, divers from all over the USA and the Caribbean descended on the site.

The emerald waters off the coast of Florida hosted divers from 9 states and the Caribbean who came together to take part in the world’s largest winged diving tournament. During the two-day event, divers removed nearly 14,119 individuals from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as 5048 during the pre-tournament “warm-up”, for a total of 19,167 fish.

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There were many more participants in this year’s tournament than last year. A total of $48,000 in prize money went to the participants, with the first place team collecting a cheque for a round $10,000. The winning team – Florida Man, consisting of 4 people, removed 2421 wings in 48 hours.

emerald-coast-lionfish-tournament-1

Most of the fish caught ended up on the market. Ultimately, divers could choose to sell or keep their catch. More than 3 tonnes of fish were purchased by Halperns, a seafood distributor that works with grocery chain Whole Foods.

Why are wings being caught in such numbers?

All this is due to the fact that wingfish are an invasive species with no predator among the local fauna that could affect the population. Very quickly this beautiful fish has become a huge problem as large females lay 100,000 eggs every 2.5 days and smaller ones up to 30,000! Preying on native fish species in the Gulf of Mexico, they have reduced their populations on some reefs by up to 90%! One horsetail can devour up to 20 other fish in 30 minutes!

In recent years, in areas affected by horsetail infestation, residents and local authorities have been doing everything possible to save underwater ecosystems. Hence, the organisation of hunts and the introduction of these fish to the menus of many catering establishments.

Source: sportdiver.com
Photo: wikioedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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