The oceans have many mysteries and never fail to surprise us, or even shock us. While many are natural, some are simply man-made. It so happened that a group of divers around the Cayman Islands found a disturbing and ghastly site – hundreds of dead and decomposing sharks and other sea creatures entangled in a massive floating “ghost net.” Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean by fishermen. They are often invisible in the dim light, and are often tangled on a rocky reef or drifting in the open sea. Caught fish get entangled and die, which attract scavengers which in turn get caught as well – a vicious circle of death.
Dominic Martin-Mayes, a 27 year old diving instructor and fisherman, explained that he was with a group of friends when they came across the floating net of dead sea creatures. “ At first we thought it was a log, but as we got closer we could see it was a net with floats. I jumped in the water first and was shocked at what I saw. It took my breath away – the first thing I saw was the juvenile oceanic white tip. I got my buddy who was with me to grab a knife and jump in. We did what we could to free the trapped life but most of it was already dead.”
Martin-Mayes and his friends did all they could but had to stop their rescue attempts for fear of becoming trapped themselves. He added “ The net’s sole purpose in life is to kill. You get your hand wrapped in it and you drown.” Well, thankfully, it was reported that a fisherman, Charles Ebanks, later rediscovered the “ghost net” ad towed it into Harbour House Marina, where it was successfully lifted out of the ocean. It was taken into a landfill awaiting action by an international non-profit group to properly dispose of it.
Sadly, this is not a seldom occurrence. Several incidents of ghost nets have been reported, and most of the time, fishermen intentionally leave their nets adrift hoping to recover them later on filled with fish. Currents may bring these nets away from the areas they were left in, and most likely presumed to be lost. They become like a “creeping” death machine. Hopefully people will become more responsible, and end the threat and danger of ghost nets once and for all.