The lionfish (a.k.a. zebrafish) is an incredibly invasive species found all over the Caribbean. With no predators, these "vacuums of the sea" eat up native species and upset the biodiversity needed for a healthy ecosystem.  This attractive fish is native to the Indo-Pacific and was probably released in the 1980's into the Florida coast by an aquarium hobbyist. According to National Geographic, this species has "the ability to reproduce every four days, a lionfish and its offspring can produce 8.1 quintillion eggs in just three months." Incredible and devastating.

Lionfish  (Pterois volitans)

One designer, Tara Cassidy of La Garza Bermuda, makes beautiful jewelry from the spines and fins of lionfish caught around Bermuda where she lives. By doing so, she not only brings awareness to invasive species but also encourages local fishermen to go after this species.  5% of the sales of her lionfish jewelry is "donated toward efforts to find a long term solution for lionfish population control".

She explained her interest in her unique nature inspired designs, "I am an Environmental Designer, specializing in Biomimetics and designing the way we exist after systems in nature. Due to this background, I ultimately strive for sustainable alternatives in my designs and seek to draw the natural world to our immediate attention."

The non-venomous lionfish fins are dehydrated before being set in a bio-resin or dipped into said resin a number of times.  The venomous spines of lionfish are rendered harmless before use.

I wondered what inspired her shop name.  Tara explained, "In 1505 Juan de Bermúdez was captain of the Spanish flagship “La Garza” when he discovered Bermuda out in the lonely Atlantic. “La Garza” or “La Garça” translates into “The Heron”. I chose this name due to its rich history and because I consider the Heron to be my spirit animal, reminding me to stand calm but alert; to walk and take flight with grace; to cement my connection and responsibility to the environment and the well being of our life cycle."

She is indeed an innovative artisan who truly appreciates nature.

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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