Sarasota Lionfish Derby

Join us for the fourth annual Sarasota Lionfish Derby, which invites scuba divers to compete for more than $3,500 in cash prizes by netting or spearing lionfish in an effort to control the spread of this invasive species.

The derby will take place from July 7-9 with its home base at Mote, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota, FL. This derby is the first of four in the 2017 Summer Lionfish Derby Series coordinated by Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). On July 9, several culinary partners will compete to prepare the best lionfish dishes during the derby’s public event at Mote.


  • Registration is required and costs $120 per team (two to four people). Register for the Sarasota Derby or others in the summer series: LEARN MORE >>
  • Mandatory captains’ meeting is 6:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, July 7, in the WAVE Center auditorium on the first floor of Mote’s main campus (abutting Mote Aquarium).


The derby culminates July 9 with a public event at noon, including an awards ceremony running through about 3 p.m.

Starting at noon on Sunday, July 9, culinary partners from Indigenous, Mattison’s, Mote’s Deep Sea Diner, The Beach House and Seafood Shack Marina, Bar & Grill will prepare special lionfish dishes and participate in a cooking competition.

  • The public is invited to sample and vote for the best dish.
  • Cost is $10 per person to attend the entire tasting.
  • Chefs will compete for Whole Foods Market gift cards.
  • Tasting tickets must be purchased in advance: PURCHASE >> (Tickets are limited.)

The Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) has invaded coastal habitats of the western Atlantic Ocean over the past two decades and has the potential to cause major ecological changes in reef fish communities. Lionfish derbies are an important way to educate and encourage divers and snorkelers to harvest — and eat — this invasive species, which has spread along the eastern Atlantic coast, through the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

Mote thanks the Sarasota Outboard Club for the donation of their facilities, and thanks the following sponsors of the 2017 Sarasota Lionfish Derby: Whole Foods Market, Sarasota; Mr. Wilber D. Geiger with Morgan Stanley and Zombiestickz; and Mike Marco with

Sponsors of the REEF 2017 Summer Lionfish Derby Series include: Florida Parks Service; National Marine Sanctuaries – Florida Keys; Ocean Reef Conservation Association; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Whole Foods Market; Zookeeper; Mote Marine Laboratory; Loggerhead Marinelife Center and 15th Street Fisheries.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *