(WSVN) - Like iguanas and pythons on land, lionfish are the invasive species of our seas, and one diving duo has made a splash on social media with viral videos of their underwater catches. Alex Browning has today’s 7 Spotlight.

We headed out on the water off the coast of Boynton Beach, but this fishing expedition wasn’t for mahi-mahi, wahoo or even spiny lobster.

Our eyes were set on lionfish.

Nate Sorensen, Lionfish Extermination Corp: “The biggest problem with this fish is, it has zero predators in this area.”

Make that marine predators, because divers Nate Sorensen and Alex Borsutzky of Lionfish Extermination Corporation are a two-man creature catching machine.

Nate Sorensen: “The fact that we only target lionfish and our brains are triggered, focused on lionfish, that’s all we want.”

And it is the only fish allowed on this boat.

Alex Borsutzky, Lionfish Extermination Corp: “I tell you, it’s a passion for the reef.”

Reefs that have been harmed by a lionfish invasion.

Experts say they were first found along the Florida coast in the mid-1980s, likely released from aquariums.

And, as these red dots show, their numbers have exploded over the decades.

Alex Borsutzky: “Just eating as much as they can. It’s a free buffet for them. All they do is eat and sleep, eat and sleep and reproduce.”

That’s why Nate and Alex are out here at least once a week.

Alex Browning: “You feel like you guys are making a difference?”

Alex Borsutzky: “I think so. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”

In late July, the pair caught something else: fire on social media.

Their TikTok videos have gone viral. A few racked up millions of views each.

Nate Sorensen: “Within 16 days, I had 100,000 followers.”

It’s now more than 170,000 and counting.

Nate Sorensen: “It blows my mind that people, everyone’s seeing this. I’ve had friends call me from across the country and say, ‘Hey, I’ve seen you on TikTok.'”

Alex Borsutzky: “Then you have the other comments where they say, ‘Oh, my God, you’re killing such a beautiful fish,’ and then you have to explain why we’re doing it.”

Nate Sorensen on TikTok: “It brings me no joy killing these beautiful fish, none at all. But they’ve got to go, unfortunately.”

From Goliath groupers to sea turtles, sharks to shipwrecks, the videos open a window into the underwater world.

One I got to experience diving with Nate. Propelled by a scooter, he used a pole spear to snag lionfish after lionfish after lionfish.

Even picking up a piece of trash along the way.

Alex Borsutzky: “Since we’re here, we might as well clean the reef.”

Nate Sorensen: “Sometimes, we get two to three times this in one dive, in a single time. We do five dives; add that up, and we’ve got 100 pounds in a day sometimes.”

With millions of views online, many are wondering, what happens to the lionfish once they’re on ice.

Alex Borsutzky: “Whatever we catch, we sell it to a restaurant.”

Nate Sorensen: “With the lionfish, are all these venomous spines. You want to make sure not to get poked. So the smartest thing to do is to just take a trimmer and clip them all off. This is just like any other fish when you’re filleting. And this is completely edible.”

Alex Browning (after tasting lionfish): “Mild fish. Bite with Belkys?”

And with every bite of a captured lionfish, more of our native marine life will get to survive and thrive.

Alex Browning, 7News.

Learn more about lionfish: 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

NOAA Fisheries

If you know of a person, place or group that you think we should highlight, email us at 7spotlight@wsvn.com.

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