23 January 2011

Driftnet removal at Sisters Island

Before I began exploring Sisters Island, I set to work on the driftnet that I came across while guiding there a few days ago.
The rather large clump of abandoned driftnets on Sisters Island.
Removing an abandoned driftnet takes time and is not something that can easily be done during a guided walk. So usually, a separate trip needs to be dedicated to retrieval.

Also, this year, Project Driftnet is attempting to collect data on the impact of abandoned driftnets. So we not only remove the net, but also take a closer look at it. The net on this shore was already starting to fall apart. It was hard to even get a complete portion of the net to measure the mesh size. This is probably why I couldn't find any animals trapped in the net. IThe net was probably weak enough for big animals to escape if they got stuck.
It was starting to get coated with small encrusting things, and some seaweed was entangled in it. However, it was not as well encrusted as the net I saw yesterday at Pulau Hantu, which had sponges and seaweeds growing on it. So I decided to remove this net. From this experience, I realise we also need to collect data on the state of the net, and determine more clearly when a net should NOT be removed from a shore.

As I started cutting it away, I realised a large part of the net was deeply buried in the sand. I just cut away the portions that were still sticking out. It took a while as there were lots and lots of thick ropes embedded in the net. The final portion separated from the buried parts made quite a big pile, about 70cm long when stretched out.
The net is bagged in a plastic trash bag, and put into our handy 'China bag' for easy retrieval and proper disposal on the mainland.
What are driftnets, why are they abandoned and what is their potential impact? This and more on the Project Driftnet blog.

If you see any abandoned driftnets or other fishing traps on the shore, I'd be glad to hear from you. Just email Ria hello@wildsingapore.com.

After struggling with the net for a while, I headed out to check out the marinelife on Sisters Island during this very short not-so-low tide.

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