By Alex Dedes and Corie Harder, Special to St. John Tradewinds
On Sunday, September 12, around 10 a.m., Emil Dameff and Ryan Lennon captured a large lionfish off the west side point of Chocolate Hole. Dameff and wife Teddi, from Punta Gorda, Florida, have been visiting St. John for years, and are loyal customers of Cruz Bay Watersports. This year on one of his daily dive adventures, Dameff spotted something locals have been tirelessly hunting.
He nearly bumped into a lionfish measuring between eight and nine inches in the Chocolate Hole area. Excited with the buzz on island about the exotic and dangerous fish he was determined all week to capture it.
Emil and Teddi Dameff teamed up with Cruz Bay Watersports staff member Ryan Lennon in efforts to track down the stripped beauty.
Remembering landmarks and locating lionfish markers helpfully placed on Dameff’s previous dives, the two descended to about 42-feet on the morning of Sunday, September 12. The pair needed help from “torpedos” to fight the strong current.
Once they located their target they carefully directed the fish into a net, using a lobster snare from a safe distance. After safely and successfully completing their dive, the group brought the fish to the Cruz Bay Watersports store.
Everyone was awestruck with the catch. Dameff was extremely proud that his determination had paid off and Lennon was all smiles. As for Teddi Dameff, she hoped they could now get back to their vacation.