The next time Jason Dimitri returns to the Western Caribbean to try to remove invasive lionfish, in the back of his mind will loom a recent frightening encounter with an aggressive reef shark.
Dimitri was using a GoPro camera to document his efforts to cull lionfish in Cayman Island waters. Lionfish, in the past decade, have overtaken many Caribbean reefs and threaten the balance of the marine ecosystem.
Suddenly, a four-foot reef shark appeared “out of nowhere” and lunged repeatedly at Dimitri, who used his spear to fend off the strikes until they ceased as he advanced toward the surface.
It’s not clear whether the shark was defending its territory or was simply inspired by the scent of lionfish blood.
Dimitri states in the video description that the encounter occurred at a depth of about 70 feet.
He adds: “I want to make it clear that I am hunting lionfish to help protect the reef from the destruction that they cause.
“The shark was acting in his natural environment. I have no ill will toward him and will get back in the water and continue to protect the reef for future generations.”