06 March 2011

Abandoned net at Kranji Nature Trail removed!

About 30 metres of thick abandoned nets entangle and choke the mangroves at Kranji Nature Trail.
Yesterday, a small team headed out to try to remove them.

The nets are very extensive! Draping and choking a variety of big old mangrove trees here.
We get to work straight away!
The nets have been abandoned for so long that the thick stilt roots of this large Rhizophora tree have pierced through the net! So we can't simply remove the net but have to carefully cut it out of the roots.
Here's Able looking closely at the net to figure out where to cut the net without hurting the tree roots.
The net also draped across the knee roots of an old Bruguiera tree. Sean (in red) and Able are hard at work on this section.
Saplings had started to settle through the net!
Some of these saplings have grown into small trees, right through the net! And breathing roots of Avicennia trees have grown through the net as well.
Andy yanks out the nets from the pencil roots of an old Avicennia tree, after we cut around some of the larger roots. I learnt I had to keep my mouth shut when yanking nets, after getting bits of mud and barnacle shells between my teeth when the net recoils. Oops.
Beyond the stilt roots, another 15m of net trail out. Brandon is hard at work on that section.
At first I thought the net drifted in from elsewhere. But Bee Yan found that the net was tied with a rope to a tree. So it seems the net was deliberately laid here, probably across the small stream. And then abandoned.
The net has been abandoned for so long that the tree trunk has grown around the rope tied to it. We couldn't get the rope out.
It's back breaking work carefully cutting the net.
We have to stick our hands into crevices among the roots to carefully cut out the net.
Rene got splinters in her hand from this task!
Another look at stilt roots and saplings growing through the net.
Some of the roots have grown so much that they are being constricted by the net. The net is really non-biodegradable! It is made out of thick rope knotted together.
Most of the net remains intact and there were very few marine organisms encrusting it. It was a relief that we did not find any large animals trapped in the net.

After carefully removing the nets, we stuff them into garbage bags then into 'China bags' for easy carrying out of the mangroves.
And bring everything out to the Reserve rubbish point for proper disposal. Thank goodness for the presence of so many strong young backs for this part of the job!
Alas, as we were finishing up with the nets, Andy and Bee Yan found yet another abandoned net! It too was tied to a tree and seems to have been laid across the stream mouth. But we didn't have time to remove this one.
It doesn't seem to be as old as the net we removed as the breathing roots haven't grown through the net. Or perhaps it is because the tree is dying. It was rather leafless, and seems to have suffered from erosion as well.
We shall have to come back to remove it another time. Sigh. It seems an never ending task to remove abandoned nets.

Rene explored Kranji Nature Trail before we started on the net removal, and she saw a pair of otters! These mangroves are homes to trees and wildlife that could get hurt by abandoned nets. Sigh.
Photo by Rene on her Naturely Curious facebook page.

A few of us are focusing on collecting data on abandoned nets and traps as part of Project Driftnet.

Thanks to the intrepid team of volunteers for removing this net: Andy, Brandon, Bee Yan, Rene, Sean and Able!

Other posts about this trip

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