Third Annual Lionfish Dive Tournament Weighs in Big Numbers

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PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Saturday morning divers and fishing enthusiasts took a plunge into the Gulf to compete in the Diver Den's 3rd Annual Lion Tamer Dive Tournament.

The venomous lionfish have no natural predators, so this is one way to prevent the growing population from threatening the ecosystem.

Thirty seven divers competed in the tournament in search of the smallest and largest lionfish. But they didn't stop there, divers were also on the hunt for gag grouper, black snapper, and red grouper.

For each lionfish caught one pound was added to the diver's chosen fish.

Lionfish caught from Saturday's event will be donated to the tournament's organizers to help promote eliminating the invasive species.

"There's really no words to explain, it's just absolutely thrilling to go down there and you get to swim around with big fish, swim around down there, look see what's going on down there, catching and spearing lion fish is a challenge in itself, they don't just lie around there," Randy Hammond, a Lion Tamer Dive Competitor, said.

Carol Cox was the all around winner with a whopping 140 points.
Her gag grouper weighed more than 11 pounds and she caught a total of 129 lionfish, combing for her 140 point takeaway.