My name is Forrest Phillips. I am one of the owners of Southern Skin Divers Supply in Birmingham, AL. Southern Skin Divers Supply is one of the original SCUBA businesses in the United States (est. 1953). We teach people to dive and run dive trips every week all over the world. Just last week we took 18 divers to the Islands of Utila and Roatan, Honduras. I was personally able to do 21 dives during the week. Our group was really there to pleasure dive and take photos but once we saw how the Lionfish have virtually taken over, we started to kill them. Just last year, on this same trip, we saw only about a dozen Lionfish. The diving here last year was some of the best we have experienced in the Caribbean. This year the diving was average and we saw over 200 Lionfish. My opinion is that the Lionfish have a lot to do with the diminished quality of diving here. We killed just over 100 of them. We dined on them 3 times, twice having ceviche and once a tasty Lionfish Pizza.
I recently went back home to the virgin islands after a hiatus for school and such. It was the first time I had been back in a year and was surprised to see lionfish roaming the reefs. I had heard that they had a arrived but my father and others hadn't seen them yet. Long story short is I am appalled to see how effective their invasion has been, and have recently taken up the hobby of eradicating them (I am happy to hear that they are good to eat and next time I am down will have to cook some up).
I was only down for 5 days for spring break and am 4/7 in my endeavor, on the two dives I brought my spear. Enclosed is the photos of three I brought back to the dock, the other one swam off my spear while I was hunting its brother. Those three were found at 80 feet on the westend of St. Croix North of Sandy Point and the other 4 were found at ~20 feet on the Westend South of Ham's Bluff. I did find 4-5 more at 60 feet in front of the RCA building on the reef with the fiber cables, but didn't have my spear on that dive.
It scares me to see them so well distributed in the water column, and to hear storys of a diver nabbing ~50 of them in one outing on the Southside of the island. Overall the reef looked very healthy am just hoping that the next time I go back it will still be as healthy.