Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Why eating this fish could save coral reefs | AJ+

Why eating this fish could save coral reefs | AJ+

– This is me holding, – [Cameraman] Hold it, hold it. fileting and eating a scary, venomous fish. – The venom is inside those needles. – And this is not me hunting it. Hi I’m Yara and I’m in Florida to learn about the lionfish. A terrifyingly, beautiful creature that’s actually destroying coral reefs in the Western Atlantic. It’s what’s known as an invasive species, meaning it’s an invader that’s
not native to these waters and it’s basically eating
everything that moves. Including tons of helpful little fish that keep the coral reefs healthy. Oh my god! And because the lionfish doesn’t have any natural predators around here, it’s population has exploded
over the past few decades. But conservationists have come up with a unique campaign to fight back, encouraging people to eat it. – It’s very tasty table fare. – [Yara] Today there
are lionfish festivals, lionfish cookbooks,
lionfish hunting derbies, celebrity chef appearances,
supermarket partnerships and even battle slogans. By hunting and eating
lionfish so the argument goes, you are helping save the coral reef. But how did this invader get here? How do you cook and eat a venomous fish? And can you really eat them to beat them? To find out, we decided to
go hunting for lionfish. Boom! So we are on our way, the
lighting here is better. We are on our way to Islamorada
also known as Islamorada. Also known as an island
from “Jurassic Park”. (Screaming) – That was a joke for you. – To go out spearfishing for lionfish. (Sneezes) We are almost there. We’re here in Islamorada,
trying to find our hotel. This feels like Jurassic Park. When the rain starts coming down, the T-Rex is unleashed into the wild. Over breakfast, I envisioned
the glorious day ahead. It’s a sail and then this is the water. Those are my legs, they’re
long like mermaid legs. Mermaids don’t have legs. This is me heroically
spearfishing a lionfish. And here’s the sun, it’s blue. – [Tabish] You literally had yellow. – Okay so I obviously had
no concept of spearfishing, but that’s okay. We met up with two people that do. Hey guys.
– Hey Yara. – That’s Eric and that’s Jack. Wave for like five seconds. Eric’s been hunting
lionfish for over a decade. So he and Jack were going to
take us along on their charter, to show us how it’s done. I am now boarding the charter. (dramatic violin music) Oh God that’s probably
not a good, there we go. So where we heading now? – We are heading out to one of my extra, special secret spots. – We struck something with the anchor. Have they legalized the
hunting of this fish? – Yes, every single other
fish that is legal to fish, there’s regulations. Lionfish is open all the time,
no regulations, go get ’em. – And they’re doing that essentially to – Control the populations.
There’s not much else we can do. You can’t catch ’em hook and
line because they don’t bite. You have to go down there and spear them. They like to be on structure
and they don’t move. – They cling to things. – They cling to things and then they’ll eat everything there. – But how exactly are these
fish such efficient killers? Let me explain or better yet, let’s have the “Planet Earth” guy explain. – [Narrator] In the coral reefs off the Florida coast, there is a thriving ecosystem
of fish, big and small. But there is one creature
that does not belong, the lionfish. It’s hypnotizing spines are full of venom but that’s not what it
uses to hunt it’s lunch. Instead, the lionfish
slowly stalks it’s prey, then without a moment to spare it strikes. The lionfish will eat anything it can stretch its mouth around, including other lionfish
if it comes to that. Its stomach can fit more than thirty time (Sneezing) – Okay I’ll stop, I’ll stop. Lionfish are actually
native to the Indo-Pacific where natural predators help keep their populations in check. But as for how they got here,
it’s hard to know for sure. The leading theory is
that some aquarium owners dump these exotic pets into the ocean. Another story says a
giant hotel accidentally emptied it’s aquarium into the sea. Whatever it may have been, lionfish were first spotted
off the Atlantic coast back in the mid 1980s. It wasn’t a big deal initially, but because they have no
natural predators here their population multiplied rapidly and soon they were being
spotted all over the place. I mean female lionfish can release more than 2 million eggs per year. Now not all non-native
species obliterate ecosystems. But the lionfish does, which is why scientists call it invasive. It systematically wipes out
local prey and predators. And it’s reduced some
native fish populations by as much as 80% and some of these fish are crucial to the
health of the coral reef. Like the ones that eat excess algae, allowing enough sunlight and
oxygen to reach the corals. Coral reefs are vital on so many levels. They host the highest density of species of any underwater ecosystem. And they even help protect
us humans from floods and storm surges. So if they shrink or disappear, environmental disasters
could get much worse. All that destruction because
of this colorful, spiky fish. So we’re back on the boat and
ready to hunt lionfish. Eric, I have a question for you. – Yes sir. – [Yara] What is this device
you have in your hand? – This is our high-tech lionfish slayer and all it is a three-barbed pole spear. Put it in the crook of
your hand like this, you reach down, pop. – [Yara] Dang wait can you do that again?
– Yeah – You push a button, and you do that?
– No. You just reach down, grab
it, go up to the lionfish and let it go. – So I don’t have a scuba
license, which is okay but that means I can’t go
spearfishing with them. But what I can do is snorkel. Hold on I’m just gonna
go a little slowly. – [Tabish] It’s cold?
– It is cold. This is excellent, I’m so good at this. Where are these guys? – [Tabish] Front, that way, that way. – Oh God okay. Alrighty. Well this snorkeling gear
isn’t working the best. (laughing) I think I swallowed quite a bit of water. I’m gonna find them with this GoPro.
– [Tabish] Okay. I cannot see them, but I believe they may be spearfishing the lionfish. Turned out, our divers weren’t having very much luck down there. Rough weather had made for murky waters. Did you guys find anything? – We didn’t, the visibility is too bad. – But little did we know,
deep below the surface on his third dive, Eric
struck the lionfish jackpot. – [Yara] And he wasted
no time spearing them. – [Tabish] Wow. – Yeah buddy, we got a haul
here. We got some big ones. – I’ll take this up. – [Yara] Holy, alright. Holy Mother, okay – [Eric] Watch your feet, they flop. – Holy mother okay, the question I have is how venomous are these things right now? – Oh they’re venomous four days from now. So we put them out (flopping) – Jack, you have been stung before. Where did you get stung? – In the hand, it’s
usually always in the hand. – What happened to your hand? – It swells up, big enough
you can’t even make a fist for a couple days. – It just is insanely, insanely painful. They’re like hypodermic needles. When this thing dies, that
venom stays in these spines. – [Yara] Holy crap Oh my god. It just ate that. – They’ve found up to 50 fish
like this in one stomach. – [Yara] Jesus they have
a voracious appetite. – [Jack] Voracious. – If you’re a certified diver
and you’re coming to the Keys, this is a fun activity. We’ll go out, we’ll spear ’em, take them to the local restaurant, they’ll prepare it for ya. And you get to help the reefs
out by getting these things out of there and fill your
belly up at the same time. – So who’s winning here,
humans or the lionfish? Well scientists agree that
completely eradicating the lionfish from these waters
is impossible at this point. But studies have shown that hunting and removing enough of them can allow native fish
populations to bounce back, at least temporarily. That’s why conservationist have hosted tons of lionfish hunting derbies. And led a campaign
encouraging people to eat them, and supermarkets to sell them. But how does one actually
eat a venomous fish? We headed up the Florida
coast to a town called Deland, to meet with a chef who
was going to teach us how to safely filet and eat a lionfish. – Hey.
– Hey guys! How are you? – Nice to meet you. I’m Yara.
– How’s it going? Hari. – So everything’s like super natural. – [Tabish] The introduction is so natural. – Yes now it’s natural. We
didn’t have to actually fake … – Hari runs an awarding winning
restaurant called “Cress”. It’s centered on the
idea of sustainability and eating the invasive lionfish is very much a part of that mission. – Have you ever eaten lionfish? – I have never eaten
lionfish, it looks uh … It doesn’t look friendly. – So the venom for this
lionfish lives in these spines. – Let’s de-venomize it. – So do you want to cut
them off, you don’t have to. – No, no you know let’s
do it big boy style. First we had to filet this thing. I am holding venomous spikes in my hand. – Yeah you are. – [Yara] Then we pan roasted it. – A little bit of salt, pepper. This is the time to put the thyme. – Yes, I love puns. – Oh voila
– Okay – Turn it over. Lemon, dry white wine, butter –
And we also have a sauce now. We serve it with some
rice, some vegetables. – [Yara] Next up some lionfish ceviche. – Equal part lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice. The zest. I’m from India so I’m always sneaking ginger and garlic into everything. Shallots, go for it. Extra virgin olive oil,
coconut milk, cilantro. We’re just going to get the fish and put some fish in there. Just want to submerge it all the way so the acid has a chance to do its thing. And that’s ceviche. – [Yara] Then some lionfish cakes. – I wanna smoke this whole
carcass and pull the meat out. – Oh we’re gonna keep the spikes too? – Gonna leave everything in there. Our alley smoker, which
you smell a little bit. – Yeah, it smells like flavor. – Just try to get the big
chunks of meat that you can. – Oh I wanna make one of those. – [Hari] Flatten it up a little bit. – Nice.
– Tasty? – Mmmhmm. It taste very
terrestrial, the sturdiness of it. When you bite into it, there’s
a little more pushback. Yeah this is really good. How is it? – Wow! That’s really good. – Does ceviche normally have coconut milk? – No but Hari’s ceviche does. (laughs) – The creaminess is being
counter balanced by the acid. We gotta give you some too. Did it turn out like it normally does? – Delicious. You know if you look at something that’s supposedly venomous
and you think when you eat it it’s going to be astringent,
it’s going to be bitter because maybe I’m eating poison. But clearly we’ve left the toxin out of whatever we’re serving
– Right, it’s just in the spikes.
– It’s just in the spikes. As you can very well see, this is a great, clean, white flaky fish. It’s got a natural sweetness
and I think part of it comes from the fact that
something’s gonna taste like what it eats. So they eat the young of shellfish, snapper, grouper, what have you. So they’re eating people food. – You know, it’s interesting. Humans are likely to blame
for the lionfish problem. Now, it’s up to humans to make
sure the coral reefs survive. And human consumption can
generate more demand for lionfish, which means more diving and more hunting. And maybe in the future there
will be more efficient ways to remove lionfish, like this
specialized lionfish trap. Or this lionfish vacuum. Or maybe local predators
will learn how to eat them. – Life finds a way. – [Yara] For now, if you
want to help the coral reef and you eat meat try
some lionfish civiche. You won’t regret it. Hey guys, thanks for making it this far. Okay, two things. One, yes I say holy mother a lot. And two, we actually did
eat the lionfish cake, we just didn’t film it. They were amazing. Anyway if
you want more videos like this, make sure to subscribe.
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68 comments on “Why eating this fish could save coral reefs | AJ+

  1. Thanks for watching guys! First off – how unconvincing was my David Attenborough impression? Let me know lol.

    Secondly, we've got some easter eggs! There's three animated T-rexes sprinkled throughout the video. They pop up for barely a second. Comment with timestamps if you find 'em!

  2. Or…you know…we could just stop dumping toxic waste in the water and introducing invasive species into areas wherein they could throw the local ecosystems out of whack.

    That said, eating billionaires is vegan; pass it on.

  3. EDIT: Misread the first clip's caption. My bad!

    You made a Jurassic Park joke, yet used a clip from Jurassic World? Blasphemy!

  4. You're killin' it dude, great video.

    Take it easy with the overdone sound editing. Sometimes less is more, an audio cue should help connect us to the video, not distract us with constant over-editing.

  5. Hey AJ…..why was ur latest videos removed? I clicked on the notification i received to watch but i keep getting a error message and unavailable
    ….its bout immigrants underground left behind by ICE

  6. Very interesting documentary. One thought: isn't there an other solution than eating them even if, I admit it, the recipes part were kind of my favourite part 🙈? Like capturing them and releasing them somewhere else?. Anyways, great job as always!

  7. Yara’s an amazing host – his enthusiasm is contagious! Also, now I need to see if I can find lion fish in a grocery store in Michigan. 😄

  8. Okay I'm down
    I'm fine with eating fish and seafood. This might not be salmon or squid but I'll enjoy it if I can get it, especially if it helps the environment!

  9. Also shootout to my elementary school education for telling me you cant eat lionfish. Liars!!! Lol

  10. At first I thought this video was just going to be one long joke but I was wrong (again!) Instead of cod and chips we should all be eating lion fish and chips with our mushy peas. Great film Thank you.
    PS Sir David has no need to worry about losing his voice over jobs haha

  11. Lionfish is the Trump of the ocean. (toxic) Mine, mine mine, and that's mine too, what you got? that's mine.

  12. Just like illegal immigrants are an invasive species and not native to our areas. But hey its okey to call fish incasive but not humans i guess…

  13. This dude looks like a fish out of water… lets go fishing in tapered tight black jeans because we are afraid to wear shorts and have the world look at my skinny white legs… BOO!Boo!
    If you like grouper and Flounder you will like this fish… little butter, little lemon…. some alcohol we got ourselves a good day when we get that Lionfish!

  14. 🔴 So basically the video says ' be the Killer Apex Predator that evolution made you! ' 🔴 … that opposable thumb is not to climb a tree on land but to jump into the ocean with a pointed stick from land and f*ck sh*t up!!! Kill Bad Fish, Eat Good Fish… Got It!!!

  15. Lionfish have no options but to eat fish. They need to in order to survive. They are simply doing what they have to if they want to live.

    Humans on the other hand, don't need to eat fish to survive. We don't have to destroy the environment, and cause climate change that ruins oceans and coral reefs. And yet we do it anyways. So, why is no one pushing events to go murder people with spears and eat their flesh?

    We need to stop this human supremacist mindset that humans are the only animals whose will to live matters. Fish value their lives just as much as we value ours. If it's wrong to kill humans to protect the planet, then it's wrong to kill fish for the same reason. We need to find ethical ways of problem solving. Genocide has no place in a civilized, decent society.

  16. It's pretty sad when you have to mention "we didn't kill the fish in this clip" to keep the vegans happy. I swear, these people would be fine with invasive species completely destroying native habitats. And yes, I've removed plenty of invasive species (mainly plants) in my local area. Honestly, In some ways, consuming invasive animal protiens are more environmentaly friendly than being vegan.. Aquaponics/environmentalism really could feed the world.

  17. Millions of dollars and years of research has failed to eradicate these invasive lion fish.

    All they have to do is to state the fact that lion fish fillets are more than a thousand times more powerful aphrodisiac than rhino horns.

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