Feeling Broke and Murderous? Try Whacking Some Lionfish While on Vacation

​Just when you think God has forgotten about South Florida, he goes and completely makes up for it by sending hordes of hideous lionfish our way.

We know what you're thinking: But Riptide, isn't that a bad thing?

Not if you get to kill them with a clean conscience, dear reader. And to justify the bloodletting even further, you can now make some tidy cash out of it too.

The invasive Pacific fish species began to spread into the Atlantic in 2003, but wasn't spotted in the Florida Keys until last year. Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warn that stopping the spread of lionfish is "nearly impossible."

But that doesn't mean we can't try, so dust off your harpoon gun and get at 'em like Ernest Hemingway on a Serengeti bender.

In fact, killing the aquatic [email protected] may be the only way to make a living in South Florida this winter.

​Recent REEF-sponsored "lionfish roundups" or "derbies" have offered $1,000 to the team of four with the most fish on a stick, plus $500 for the biggest lionfish and -- in what seems kind of sadistic -- $500 for the smallest one as well.

Last week we recommended a few ways to weather the recession, including stocking up on alcoholic energy drink Four Loko. Might we suggest depleting some of your stock in the sake of re-enacting Kill Lionfish Bill underwater?

The next roundup is Dec. 8 in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, but Caribbean islands like Turks & Caicos are now promoting year-round lionfishing campaigns.

There will be (lionfish) blood.

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.