Ghost Nets are discarded fishing nets left to float in the ocean until they become a hazard to the marine environment. From trapping turtles and fish, to strangling the living coral reef, they are an extreme danger to marine life and the underwater eco-system. Here are some examples of the Ghost Net recoveries performed by Deep Ecology:
Ghost Net Recovery #1Makua Beach, West Side Oahu
While conducting a tour of Makua dive site with customers, we found an approximately 100-150 ft long lay net which was recently abandoned. The net was in an area frequented daily by Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins and also home to Green Sea Turtles and countless reef fish. This net had anchored itself, as they typically do, by wrapping around coral heads. In this process many coral heads are ripped off the reef, destroying homes to many marine species. This job was too dangerous to conduct with customers. So the decision was made to return the following day.
Upon returning the next day we released two crabs that had become entangled. I never like to leave these nets for fear that more life will be needlessly lost so I was glad that nothing had apparently died in the last 20 hours. Chris Barboza, Senior Instructor and myself would do the net removal while two safety divers observed. Darrel and Pete documented and observed while Chris and I went through the arduous task of removal.
We nearly needed a second tank, as we were both very low on air by the time we had managed to walk this ghost net the 150 yards to shore along the bottom. We actually balled up the net as best we could, removed our fins, put the weight of the net on our backs and walked it in. (Very slowly, I might add.) After completing the removal I realized just how angry I felt that people simply abandoned nets. But at the same time, it felt good to know that we had made a difference. In real terms we had saved life, whether it was dolphins, turtles, reef fish, coral heads, etc. We undoubtedly had saved life. Little did we know that this was the beginning our formal "Direct Action Policy"
Net Recovery #10May 29th, 2001
Hammerheads, North Shore, Oahu
This recovery was conducted because of a report and request from a State of Hawaii Marine Enforcement Officer. We thank him for the information. The net was approximately 100 feet in length and had already done a lot of damage. Who knows how much life had already been lost before the removal. The recovery took place in about 10 feet of water and lasted about 45 minutes. Thanks to Greg and Catherine for their help. We saved one Convict Tang and several crabs and lobsters.
Net SculptureGrowing frustration with the amount of marine debris we were able to easily collect on our regular beach cleanups, we decided to put this debris to good use. Instead of simply throwing it away, we created a frame to build on.
As an educational tool we took our 40 ft storage container and turned it into the canvass for a Ghost Net Mural, to remind people of the damage that abandoned nets pose to all marine life. By October 1999, we had collected over 5 tons of debris.
This "Net Sculpture" continues to grow and serves to remind us of the ever-increasing problems our oceans are encountering. This monument to human waste has become a landmark in itself and people now stop to take pictures and look in awe at how much we have collected in such a short period of time. Our hope is in doing this we can raise awareness enough to get policies changed to decrease the problem and eventually eliminate it.
Net Sculpture Update 2005: Unfortunately, we are sorry to say due to business constraints we were forced to remove our net sculpture. Thank you so much to the US Army for their assistance with this big job.
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