21 May 2011

Very long driftnet on Pulau Semakau

A very long driftnet was laid on the seagrass meadows of Pulau Semakau today.
It is possibly as long as 500m!

The net was discovered as I did seagrass monitoring there with TeamSeagrass. The net ended at the last of our Site 1, and Siti saw it also on her Site 2 about 300m away.
As I walked on the high shore towards Site 1, I also came across five crab traps baited with chicken feet.
Here are the other crab traps. One had a flower crab in it.
While we were doing our seagrass monitoring, I noticed two men checking the driftnet.
I approached and chatted with them. The man in the blue overalls said it was his net and that it was his first time laying it on Pulau Semakau. He added that he didn't expect the tide to be so low. And that he will be removing it at high tide. I did suggest that he should not lay nets on Pulau Semakau.
The men continued down the entire length of the net collecting what had been trapped in it.
Here, the other man was removing what seems to be a flatfish.
As I walked along part of the net, I saw this large fish trapped in the net. It was later collected by the men.
Their boat was nearby. They later returned to the boat and were still there when we left the shore. Hopefully, they did remove the net and traps.
Later, when I met up with Andy, he said he came across an enormous pile of abandoned nets washed up among some mangrove trees. It seems we shall need to go back to Semakau to remove the nets as part of our Project Driftnet. And we just did a net haul here last month and the month before!

I had a quick look to check for coral bleaching. The corals I saw today seemed alright. None were bleaching.
But I came across this large patch of recently dead corals.
There's so much that can affect our beautiful shores. We can only keep monitoring and documenting and educating and hope for the best.

More about the trip on the TeamSeagrass blog.

More about ANOTHER large pile of abandoned heavy duty fish nets also found today on Pulau Semakau. By Andy on his blog.


  1. Large fish looks like a barramundi (Lates calcarifer). Looks too big and snout too sharp to be the smaller coral reef seabass (Psammoperca waigensis).

  2. Were the creatures/fishes caught in the driftnet still alive when you saw them ? I wonder how you felt when the said men went on collecting the trapped creatures AFTER you advised them not to lay nets at Semakau ...

    The "large fish" in your photo looks very much like Lates calcarifer (Asian Seabass, Barramundi, Giant Perch/Seaperch, Ikan Siakap). It has very distinctive, sail-like & spiny front-dorsal fin, while the back-dorsal, caudal (tail) & anal fins are rounded. Mature specimens can reach 1.5-1.8m in length.

    Its range lies in the Indo-West Pacific region (mostly Eastern Asia to northern Australia). Fertile adults swim from freshwater rivers to estuaries, tidal flats, lagoons & coastal waters to spawn. In areas lacking rivers, purely marine populations may exist.

    Some photos/info: CRC Reef Research, Fishbase, Mid-sized specimen (Thailand), Suntrade Fisheries

  3. Thanks Jeff and Pat for the ID of the big fish! Laying of driftnets is an issue that is difficult to resolve. Abandoned driftnets are particularly heartbreaking to encounter. My personal opinion is that we can make a start by documenting the extent and impact of the practice. Which is the purpose of Project Driftnet.



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