We had the opportunity to go to Bermuda to produce a few episodes of our series, Vendors. We set out to find products or items native to the island. In a twist which turned out to be a great story, we found an angle that was less native to the island and more invasive. We ended up pursuing the story on lionfish because we found from our research that the impact it was having on Bermuda and the Atlantic ocean was becoming catastrophic. We quickly learned how the island is combating the invasive species and utilizing the fish in its cuisine, in turn, sort of making the lionfish now a prominent species and delicacy on the island. The lionfish story had all the right elements for a strong narrative. It had the invasive angle, how they are trying to control it, the process behind catching and butchering them and the culinary elements. The venomous side to the species also played a big role in how the audience consumed the content. It has that natural shock value.
The episode of Vendors was filmed in Bermuda. We researched a bunch to find the right story and angle. At Eater, we feature a lot of chefs utilizing seafood and noticed from our research that lionfish was highly invasive on the island. We decided to pursue a lionfish story to help shine a light on the impact lionfish is having on the ecosystem and the island. We found our character, Chris Flook and his team. They were able to provide all the elements of a great story including Chris’s role at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. With any fishing-related shoot, there is a lot of planning that goes into execution. We had weather, the tides, the boat, and the unknown of whether we would even be able to catch any lionfish to deal with. Thankfully Chris came prepared and really supported the Eater team with executing this story. Chris and his team took our GoPro cameras down to dive and showcase how they spear the lionfish. He also provided a few extra lionfish already caught on hand in case we weren’t able to find them. With our series Vendors, we focus on a specific purveyor of a product and in this instance, we focused on licensed fishermen who are helping to fight the lionfish population on the island. In addition, we tie the episode back to restaurants since we are a food and restaurant publication. We showcased Chris butchering the lionfish to remove the venomous spines and then brought it back to the island to sell to a restaurant for their menu that evening. The strategy behind the story was to share the knowledge of how invasive the species is and in the end, hopefully make an impact. As Chris says at the end, “It’s a win/win, the fact that you can eat as many as you want and feel no guilt about eating them,” really drives home the message behind their operation. In most cases, our oceans are overfished but with this one species, Chris and his team are hoping to spread awareness on how impactful the lionfish has been to the ecosystem and to Bermuda.
The episode was a huge success for the Eater team. It not only was a strong story but also brought awareness to an invasive species and its impact on Bermuda. We sought out to share a story and a unique food angle which we accomplished. We hit all the points we wanted to hit including how the species was introduced to the island, the impact, how it’s spreading, how to butcher it, and finally how the fish is prepared and served. In the end, the episode garnered over 1.3M views on our YouTube channel and brought in 8.9K in likes. On social, the shorter versions brought in 5.1M views on YT shorts and hundreds of thousands across Instagram and TikTok. It was a big success with our audience specifically in viewership which in turn, spreads the awareness and drives home the message more.