Congratulations to the intrepid divers who joined Al Mahara Diving Center on Friday 30th December 2011 in the ghost net removal exercise!
The day started with a safety briefing by Darren Drewery, PADI Instructor who talked about the importance of clearing the abandoned fishing lines and nets as they can cause divers to get entangled as well as marinelife. Previous trips to the MV Jassim wreck off Abu Dhabi caused divers to take action as plenty of abandoned lines were encountered.
About the MV Jassim
The MV Jassim was a 60meter coastal tanker which sank on 25th March 1986 approximately 56km off Abu Dhabi waters. The circumstance of loss was due to the UAE armed forces using the vessel as target practise. It is currently resting on its port side at approx 26m-27meters and is broken up into three sections. The midship cargo section is broken into smaller debris and can be confusing as the pipes and deck is scattered across the seabed and in sometimes poor visibility divers can get confused as they head from the stern to the bow or vice versa. What is interesting in this convoluted derbis are some reminants of lorry wheels and parts and rigging. The engine room and accommodation area is located in the stern and the large propeller and rudder is still intact. The bow is intacted and the deck winches can be found here. There are plenty of marinelife living on this wreck. There is usually a school of batfish that will hover over divers and follow them around, attracted by their bubbles. Schools of barracuda, trevallies, snappers, two-striped breams, oranged spotted groupers (aka hammour), cobia, yellow banded angelfish, lots of bivalves and oystershells/mollusks and lots of marcolife including a variety of nudibranchs and cowries and blennies and dottybacks. Over the years, recreational divers and fishermen visit this site for the marinelife and over time, entangled nets, fishing hooks and lines lie abandoned on the wreck. On some nets, there are already heavy growth of sponges and mollusks and juvenile marinelife hiding on them. Also there are crab shells, fish bones also entangled on these nets. Some lines found are new as not much growth is visible.
The Removal Exercise
Once divers were briefed, we headed out to the wreck. Due to the recent strong winds, there was moderate waves 2-4feet high. Divers endured the choppy seas and splashing waves and cool breeze. They then equipped themselves with the 60cm wooden sticks to roll up the nets, gloves, scissors, line cutters, mesh bags, commercial liftbags and reels and torches. Designated teams entered the cool 20C waters and descended upon the quiet wreck. Immediately the batfish greeted the divers and a school of barracuda cruised by the wreck near the divers. Since the dive was 20-27meter, divers had to watch out for their air and bottom time limits. Each team started in the middle cargo where the mast protruded out. Plenty of lines and nets were found. Divers rolled, cut, lifted the lines and net, one small section at a time and keeping track of their buddies and air supply and bottom time. Divers made 2 dives on the wreck and brought up plenty of debris that day. Some lines and nets were already overgrown with marinelife and were left behind. Plenty more will still need to be removed as they continue to pose a hazard for both divers and sealife. Finally after all the divers ascended, made their safety stops and safely brought up the lines and net, we all headed back to the marina. On behalf of Al Mahara Diving Center and the diving community, we extend a huge thanks to the committed divers who came out for this exercise. Some visiting divers from UK and others drove from Dubai showed their dedication to our initiatives. We will continue to do this exercise in the near future as there are still plenty of ghost nets out there needlessly trapping marinelife and posing hazards to the diving community. Our work has just begun.
Special thanks to Darren who headed up this exercise, Arnel (boat captain who safely got us to the wreck and back in choppy seas) and divers: Andi (PADI OWSI,) Andre (aka drysuitman, PADI MSDT and underwater photographer,) Todd, Lisa, Rania, Sarfaraz, Matt, Peter (PADI IDC-Staff), Lucas and also to Project Aware and Emirates Diving Association for their support.
If you would like to find out more about these activities or other environmental initiatives like underwater clean ups, reef check training (Indo-Pacific species) and school or group presentations, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.divemahara.com
Wishing everyone all the best for 2012!!!!
Al Mahara Diving and Kayaking Team