NET REMOVAL AT SOUTH WEST
Recently, our morning dive groups noticed several fishing nets caught over the Secret Pinnacle, which is located at a dive site called South West. Consequently, we decided to go back later that week to clean-up the dive site. Our clean-up effort involved eight staff/DMTs and one fun diver and consisted of two dives.
We dove the first dive with Nitrox so that we could extend our bottom time at 25m. We took great care untangling the nets so as not to damage the corals. Our plan was to divide ourselves into three different teams: (i) Team Cutters: they unhooked and cut the nets, (ii) Team Rollers: they kept the net tight so that Team Cutters could work without worrying about any possible entanglement, and (iii) Support Team: they maintained a close eye on safety and also took heaps of pictures. Our plan of attack consisted of starting at the bottom of the nets, working our way upwards, and then securing the nets into a bundle secured with weight belts. The most time-intensive part of this dive involved removing all the sea urchins trapped underneath the nets. Before ending the dive, we marked our work area with a SMB (surface marker buoy).
During our second dive, we simply returned to our work area. Two groups attached lift bags to the weight belts in order to bring them to the surface safely. Meanwhile, the other group prepared a map of the dive site taking special note of the following: (i) the location of the remaining debris, (ii) the size of the nets, and (iii) their degree of entanglement in the coral. It definitely took a bit of work to drag up all the nets onto the boat. Once on the boat, we combed through the nets picking out any small marine life. There were plenty of little reef crabs and a few types of mollusks, which we dutiful returned to their home.
On our way back home, we celebrated our success by cracking open a few beers and by enjoying the beautiful sunset. It was a perfect end to a busy day! A huge thanks from Sairee Cottage Diving to everyone who helped out: Tricia, Gail, Johnny J., Anne, Stefan, John, Andy, and Wess. We are definitely planning to return to South West for another clean-up dive in the next few weeks. And there is much work to be done on the surface as well; we look forward to the day where the fishing and the dive community can work together to conserve the local environment. Until then, we will continue to monitor our dive sites. For more information about our eco work (or anything else that we are up to), please check out our Facebook page at: