The Gittings Trap for Lionfish Hunters

it opens and closes like a person’s mouth when eating

The Gittings trap is made of netting attached to a circular frame constructed of metal or PVC tubing. The trap’s hinges let it open and close like a person’s mouth when eating. When deployed, the device lies open on the ocean floor. An object in the middle, as simple as a piece of lattice found in a garden shop, sits in the middle and beckons the lionfish by its reef-like look. Then, when the trap is hauled back to the surface, the hinges snap shut, and the net captures the lionfish inside. The trip is named for designer Steve Gittings, a chief scientist for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Lionfish have been one of the biggest recent threats to the coral reefs throughout the world, including the Caribbean. Now, new research out of the University of Florida/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station in Cedar Key, FL, shows that a relatively simply designed trap can catch lionfish, especially at depths not easily reached by spearfishing and scuba diving.

Lion Fish Gittings trap deployed. Alex Fogg
Lion Fish Gittings trap deployed. Alex Fogg

“Gittings traps are made from common and inexpensive materials with the idea that this could enable construction in locations such as more remote islands where specialized materials may be difficult to source,” explains Holden Harris, study author and postdoctoral researcher at the Station. “We believe this trap may have utility throughout lionfish invaded regions, including the Caribbean.” For more information, visit: https://ncbs.ifas.ufl.edu/

Carol_Bareuther
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.