Please help me in my endeavor to support my friend, Scott Gonnello, and his non-profit Lionfish Central (lionfishcentral.org). This organization is doing all it can to evaluate, educate, and eradicate the invasive lionfish in his now-home state of Florida, and beyond.
Scott made me aware of this horrible situation several years ago. He became very passionate about preserving the aquatic ecosystem in the Atlantic waters, and soon he was traveling and connecting with divers and organizations world-wide (did you know they are a huge problem in Turkey?). His passion for this cause was so great that he sold his own SEO company to immerse himself full-time in promoting the cause and spreading the word about this non-native and beautiful, albeit dangerously invasive, fish. There are various theories as to how these fish were introduced into the Southern Atlantic-from possible broken aquariums during a hurricane, to people tossing their growing fish from their home aquariums.
In May 2021 Scott invited me to assist him at the Emerald Coast Open, the world’s largest lionfish derby in Destin, Florida. I was able to mingle with so many people who are all things lionfish who share his passion. It was fun and very eye-opening. These fish have no natural predators in this area, and their habitat is very deep, making them difficult to reach. They rise up to feed, and that is when the divers have their window to take out as many as they can. It is a necessary evil, as these fish feed on all the reef fish and vegetation, and destroy the living reefs, interrupting the ecosystem. And yes, the fallout damage can reach us up here in Massachusetts and beyond. This disruption in the ecosystem can cause extinction of some native fish species and plays havoc on the commercial fishing industry. Currently they are moving into the waters of North Carolina along the Atlantic. One female can lay 50,000 eggs every 3 days. They lay their eggs in a jelly-like orb, which can be carried in a current for miles, allowing them to easily outnumber the native fish.
As the foundation grows, it has taken him around the United States and also to the Caribbean. In just a couple short years, he has gone from launching this non-profit to spreading the word, to attending lionfish hunting derbies, to creating a video game, to creating a comic book (more on that below) to collaborating with Scott Cassells in securing a submarine to dive deeper to where these destructive fish reside and remove larger quantities at a time.
In devoting himself full-time to his non-profit, he is using his wonderfully creative personality to launch fund-raising efforts. He can’t continue to provide resources in his eradication efforts without the help of benefactors to the cause. This is where you come in. This fundraising effort is in the form of this contest. Everyone who raises donations of $2,000.00 or more is entered to win a spot on the Lionfish Cruise to Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao!! Although I would love to be that winner, I more importantly want to help him spread the word, educate, and assist him in his financial efforts to keep this non-profit thriving. Which brings me back to the comic book. I ordered several for my niece’s kids, and my daughter’s step nephews. I told Scott this is so much more than a comic book. While it has it’s cartoon characters and delightfully educating story in terms that our younger population (our future ecosystem savers) can understand, it is so chock full of information for all of us. I am very impressed by the amount of knowledge one can gain from this $10 resource. So, if you can’t donate to this fundraising effort, please at least go to the website and order this comic book to educate yourself and your children/grandchildren, etc.
I thank you for your time and consideration. – Valerie