To benefit the Miami Dade Reef Guard Association

Presented by Tarpoon Lagoon Dive Center & Deco Divers

Sanctioned by Reef Environmental Education Foundation & Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


Our tournament is REEF (Reef Environmental Educational Foundation) sanctioned with the support of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Proceeds from this event will support the Miami Dade Reef Guard Association, a non-profit organization, in their efforts to bring an iconic artificial reef to Miami Dade which will serve as a signature attraction for divers and anglers while relieving pressures on the natural reefs; create marine habitat and increase marine diversity and population; boost the local economy; provide a platform for education and research, and preserve the history and heritage of the vessel.


It is also our objective to increase education and awareness. Although invasive lionfish are widely dispersed throughout the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, a large portion of the general public still does not know about the problem. In addition, there are many myths and much misinformation regarding the biology and ecology of lionfish. Lionfish derbies serve to educate participants and the public and raise awareness of the problem. Significant local, national, and international media coverage of derby events has helped facilitate education to those not geographically connected to the invaded range.


Remove Significant Numbers of Lionfish

Ongoing research studies indicate that single day removal events can be highly effective in lowering the local lionfish population. Because lionfish have no controlling predators in the invaded range, diver removals are one of the few effective means of reducing the lionfish population at present.


Train Divers, Encourage Ongoing Removals

The captain’s meeting at the derby serves to train divers how to properly collect and handle venomous lionfish. Information on where to find lionfish, what tools and techniques are available and how to safely and effectively use them, increases both success and safety of participants.


Provide Samples for Research

Each lionfish captured during derbies becomes a specimen for scientific research. Many different pieces of data are gathered during derbies such as length, weight, stomach contents, stage of sexual maturity, otoliths, and tissue samples. Collecting data on local lionfish populations year after year tells scientists how the population is changing over time. It is incredibly difficult for scientists to find enough time, funding, and resources to acquire thousands of samples. Derbies make high sample sizes a reality.


Help Develop Markets

After the lionfish are brought in and scored, volunteers fillet and cook the lionfish, and the public is invited to try free tastings. Spectators are encouraged to taste lionfish and learn how to safely handle and fillet lionfish. These tastings give the public a chance to see how delicious lionfish are and encourage the consumption of lionfish in local restaurants. Derbies also draw media attention to the Atlantic lionfish invasion and help promote development of the commercial lionfish market.


Our lionfish derby is a single day competition to collect and remove as many lionfish as possible. Teams collect lionfish by netting or spearing while SCUBA diving, free diving, or snorkeling. Teams begin competing at sunrise and are required to bring their catch to the scoring station by 5:00 pm. Each fish is measured, and prizes are awarded for teams catching the most, biggest, and smallest lionfish. The public is invited to watch scoring, taste free lionfish samples, watch filleting and dissection demonstrations, and ask questions about lionfish.





·       Prizes for Largest Lionfish ($500-1st, $250-2nd & $100-3rd)

·       Prizes for Most Lionfish ($500-1st, $250-2nd & $100-3rd)

·       Team Derby Registration (4 hunters per team) - $100




PHONE NUMBER: 305-861-6277

ADDRESS: 300 Alton Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139         


·       Prize for Largest Lionfish - $250            

·       Prize for Smallest Lionfish - $250

·       Boat Charter includes Individual Debry Registration (includes two AL80 air tanks) - $110 per diver

·       Boat Charter Only (includes two AL80 air tanks) - $90 per diver

·       PADI Experience Certification - $100 per diver

o   Learn about the facts and myths about the lionfish, how they got here and what we can do to protect our reefs against this invasive species. In the 2-dive specialty course, divers will learn buoyancy techniques, how to hunt without damaging the reef, learn how to control lionfish populations and has a strong emphasis on diver safety. Students are taught how to properly dive with a spear and basic first aid for marine life injuries. This is a great distinctive specialty card to add to your collection!



·       EventBrite – Miami Lionfish Derby

·       Tarpoon Lagoon Dive Center - Call 305-532-1445 or visit 300 Alton Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139

·       Event Organizer – Tyler Mahler – Adventure Charters - Call 305-457-3519




CAPTAIN’S MEETING – 22 NOVEMBER 2019: Friday 6:30pm: Miami Beach: Monty’s Sunset on South Beach

ADDRESS: 300 Alton Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139

·       The evening before the derby, participants are encouraged to attend the Captain's Meeting where lionfish biology, ecology, impacts, collecting and handling tools and techniques, and derby rules will be discussed.


DERBY DAY – 23 NOVEMBER 2019: Saturday Sunrise to 5pm: Miami Beach: Monty’s Sunset on South Beach

ADDRESS: 300 Alton Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139

·       Teams may begin collecting lionfish at sunrise                                                         

·       All lionfish must be turned into the scoring station before 5pm

·       Lionfish scoring, fillet and dissection demonstrations, games, raffle prizes and other activities will start at 5:00pm

·       Awards and raffles with start at 6:00pm

·       Official Derby Rules outlined below




23 NOVEMBER 2019: Saturday 8:00am: Miami: Deco Divers


DIVE #1: TORTUGA (110') Sometimes called the Fair Game ship because its explosion and sinking in 1995 was used as the final scene in the movie Fair Game, starring Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin. The 165’ steel ship sits upright and has large openings that make this wreck fairly easy for the trained wreck diver to penetrate. The wheelhouse can be explored, and the twin propellers are intact. There is a good amount of growth and abundant marine life. Divers report spotting Boxfish, Snapper, and Barracuda.

DIVE #2: PINK FLOYD – THE WALL (80’) There’s nothing like a dive with a frenzy of fish and little critters all doing their best to hide from the currents that constantly replenish the reef with an abundance of nutrients. Many forms of marine life can be sustained in these subsequent biodiversity hotspots. You’ll find a vast array of animals in these places, from sponges and sea fans to stingrays and lionfish as well as tons of color in reefs. This offshore reef is found just two miles offshore and you can literally drift from one end to the other with no effort needed on the right day!


23 NOVEMBER 2019: Saturday 1:00pm: Miami: Deco Divers

DIVE #1: SOUTH SEAS DRIFT (75') One of the more infamous of Miami's artificial reefs, the "South Seas" sits in 73 feet of water off Key Biscayne. This vessel is a 175-foot luxury yacht that was built back in 1928 for the Guggenheim family. It is the sister ship and exact replica of Adolph Hitler's private yacht. The ship changed hands over the years and was even owned by the Woolworth family at one point. By the 1980's the ship had deteriorated greatly, at that time over 50 years old. Although investors bought her to restore her, she sank in a Miami canal and it was finally decided that the ship be donated to DERM, Department of Environmental Resource Management. Sunk in 1983, the South Seas has been scattered across the sand bottom over the years, however, the area is still shrouded by baitfish and barracudas.

DIVE #2: PIPES DRIFT (45') This is actually a "secret spot." These left-over sewer pipes were disposed of just offshore south of Government Cut where they have sort of "stacked up" on top of each other in about 55 feet of water. The growth on the structures is incredible as the open pipes allow uninhibited flow of water and thus nutrients. Oysters, clams, sponges and the associated invertebrates are abundant and growing not only on the outside, but all along the inside of the pipes. Fish congregate on the adjacent reef and moray eels and lobster are a common occurrence here. The inside of the pipes is literally full of gorgonians attached to the sides, making it difficult, but not impossible to swim through. Yes, the pipes are large enough for a diver to comfortably navigate. It is truly amazing how these discarded sewer pipes have turned into a base for prolific life. These all-concrete pipes not only attract varied and numerous marine-life to the area, but if placed closer to shore would also prevent the erosion of the sand beach.





·       All lionfish presented at scoring station will be used for lionfish tastings, research, market development or sold to a wholesaler with proceeds going towards Miami Dade Reef Guard Association.

·       SIGNATURES: Every team member must sign the FWC Derby Signature Form prior to the start date of the event or be disqualified and will not be considered entered in the Derby, even if registration fees were paid.

·       Only legal means of capture in areas allowing use of those gear types will be allowed. All existing federal, state, and local laws must be followed. State and Federal laws will be strictly enforced.

·       During this single day event lionfish may be taken by pole spear with paralyzer tip, hand net or hook and line. No chemicals, traps or other collecting mechanisms are allowed.

·       To qualify for prizes, participants must be registered and show proper identification.

·       Non-refundable registration fees are $100 per team, with up to four people participating in each team or $20 for individual participants on the official Lionfish Derby charters.

·       Protective gloves should be worn when handling lionfish. Participants are encouraged to carry a thermos bottle on the boat containing hot, but not scalding, water for first aid purposes.

·       Derby hours: Sunrise until 5:00 pm. All lionfish must be presented at Scoring Station by 6:00pm to qualify for prizes.

·       Only one winning entry per team will be allowed in each category (no sweeping of a category).

·       If fewer than 3 entries are received in any category, the remaining awards will be left as unclaimed.

·       All lionfish must be in whole condition (no missing heads or tails). Largest and smallest fish will be determined by total length of the fish, in millimeters, measuring from tip of snout to tip of tail.

·       Any live lionfish at Scoring Station may be euthanized prior to being measured.

·       All entrants agree to allow Derby officials, REEF and FWC to take and use photos for media and promotional

·       purposes.

·       The Derby takes place regardless of weather conditions. Captains make their own decision about whether to venture out.

·       In the event of a tie, the winning team will be determined by the earliest check in of its lionfish at the Scoring Station.

·       All cash prizes will be awarded to Team Captain by bank check or cash.

·       The Lionfish Derby is an honor system tournament with the captain being responsible for team compliance with the Rules.

·       Anyone found violating Derby Rules by the Derby Officials will be disqualified from receiving any Derby prizes and prohibited from entry in any future derbies.

·       Decisions of the derby officials are final.