Captain log: October 13th, 2021
Location: Canary Islands, Puerto San Miguel, South Tenerife, Atlantic Ocean
We welcome you onboard SY Blowing Bubbles to join in on the adventures we undertake!
The crew is still trying to place the memories of Mother Nature’s vulcano momentum, witnessed by the crew during our visit to the island of La Palma and again we are faced with some serious events!
Results of human kinds progress!
During our various scuba dives with guests onboard, Geert and Didier, diving in Bajonita, a bay located in the south of the island Tenerife, we encountered several dives ghostnets.
What are ghostnets?
As I write this log, I notice that Halloween is coming up, but believe me, this is NOT your average Halloween story!
Ghostnets are fishing nets that are lost during use!
Several causes for this to happen can be:
-detachment of the surface buoys needed to recover the nets
-displacement of the nets due to storms
-detachment of the markerlines to recover/find back the nets
-sudden breaking up of the net in several pieces (bad quality or too long in use)
The problem with Ghostnets is that they ‘keep on fishing’.
As long as they stay in the water, they keep on trapping fish and so keep on killing fish uselessly.
Next issue besides of being a useless ocean life killer object, the nets are also dangerous to scuba divers.
As the nets can be freely floating around in the ocean, a scuba diver can be badly surprised by a floating net, being dragged by current in any direction and ending up entangling the diver in the ghostnet!
A super dangerous situation, as you can imagine!
Are you carrying your dive knife?
Do you have a line/netcutteron your diveset?
Did you ever use it?
Do you know how to handle a dive knife?
Maybe a good practise run on your next training dive (or ask your local Naui dive centre/dive instructor) to simulate an entanglement situation with some fishing line or a piece of fishing net and cut yourself free…but make sure to have a back up diver/supervisor with you, to make sure that your simulation stays a simulation and doesn’t end up in a real emergency.
Another cool way to get some practise time in using your dive knife (and as Halloween is coming up), is to organise or participate in a Underwater Pumpkin carving competition/event.
Just get some pumpkins, empty out the inside content and get underwater with your scuba gear and your knife…
Next step? Start carving and try the get the best result possible…
You will be stunned of what you can achieve with some craft and a lot of patience!
Back to our ghostnets in Tenerife:
During the many scuba dives with our guests Geert and Didier (from Belgium), we encountered floating nets but also steel man-made fish traps (box sized or circular).
Normally these fish traps are lowered to the bottoms of the sea for several hours to catch fish or even crabs/lobsters (did you see the National Geographic series Deadliest Catch?).
As the fisherman need to recuperate these traps after soaking them for hours on the oceanbed, they mark them with surface makers,bouys or even GPS trackers.
The problem here is that these markers, trackers can get stolen, leaving the fishtrap ‘forever’ on the bottom of the ocean!
As 1 fish will enter the trap and finally will die inside of pure starvation, the next scavanger fish will come in to eat the remains of the first fishy victim and guess what…same fate and the circle continous!
The fishtrap will never stop killing oceanlife uselessly.
Yet, there is another point to consider: the value of the fishtrap!
As scuba divers, we could simply (well, “simply” might not be the right word here, as these steel boxes are rather strongly designed and made) destroy the fishtrap and be done with it. But as the fishermen do have a life to live and to earn money to provide food to their families, they will have to replace the lost fishtraps somehow? Either to construct/buy new ones or?
And yes, that is exactly were we come in…
As scuba divers onboard SY Blowing Bubbles, we carry special safety devices like the ‘Nautilus Lifeline’ (Marine Rescue GPS).
With this device, we can send out a GPS tracking signal, for exemple when we get taken away/lost in heavy unexpected currents.
After finding the lost fishtraps, we can easily ‘mark’ their position with our Marine Rescue GPS and restore the value of the fishtrap by handing the GPS coordinates to the local fishermen, who then can recapture the fishtrap (but all of this not before we had ‘closed’ the entrance of the fishtrap so it would immediately stop killing ocean life).
The fishermen were extremely happy with our GPS donation and in return, not only some happy smiles but also some “dive bellies” were later being filled with some delicious fish, back onboard the SY Blowing Bubbles, using our barbecue!
A win-win story!
And as far as ghostnets go…go get some training with your local NAUI divecentre or instructor and get a proper dive knife to join you on your next dives as fishing lines, ghostnets and more are never to far away from us, scuba divers!