Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pulau Semakau (26 Mar 2011)

Finally, we remove the abandoned driftnet seen some time ago.
The team comprised four ladies, the tide was higher than expected, the net is very long. But as things turned out, we managed to get the job done almost effortlessly!

The net is 100 metres long! We measured it! Having to use the 50m tape twice.
The net scrapes against some living corals.
Crosses over rich growths of sponges and other encrusting marine life.
The tide was still high when we arrived at the net. As over the last few days, the tide did not go as low as we expected. This has happened to us before when the low spring tide switches from evening to morning. So it was not a huge surprise. But I was worried it would make it difficult to remove the net.
As it turned out, the higher waters was a blessing! We found out that our big blue bags float very nicely in the water so we didn't have to carry the nets as we worked. In water, the nets were also easier to clear of sand, thus reducing the weight of the nets collected.
Since we are all demure ladies (haha) and can't possibly lug the entire net out without injury, we decided to cut out the netting from the heavy ropes. The ropes won't trap animals and much of the rope is already overgrown with seaweeds and other encrusting marine life. Snipping off bits of net and tossing them into our blue bags, we feel like tea pickers at a tea plantation!
Some parts of the net are full of seaweeds, and sponges have grown into the net. Other parts of the net are still transparent and thus dangerous to animals that blunder into these invisible traps.
Another look at the state of the net. We snip out the parts of the net that are dangerously transparent and that are not too heavily encrusted.
Although most of the net was clear of large animals, we did find two little crabs (about 6cm across the body width) trapped in the nets.
They both appeared to be Spoon pincer crabs (Leptodius sp.) with spoon-shaped tips on their pincers. The one below seems to have been recently entangled in the more transparent portion of the net. We use blunt tipped scissors so we don't hurt the crabs when we carefully snip out the entangled creatures. The other crab was more seriously entangled and had already lost a pincer and some legs.
After about two hours, we finished removing all of the 100m of net! Fortunately, the tide was slow thus the water remained clear even though it was turning. We walked back along the hard sandy parts at the low shore. The higher than expected tide allowed us to float our blue bags all the way back. It was much easier than having to heave them on our backs on the soft muddy high shore! In the clear waters, we also took the opportunity to check out the rest of the low shore for more abandoned nets. Fortunately, we didn't come across any.
Thanks to NEA and Jinny for arranging a ride for us to and from the shore! We managed to get the nets to their final destination, a proper dustbin!
Despite being a small all-ladies team, we had a great time removing the net! The weather was wonderfully cloudy with gentle breezes, the high water floated our bags and the company was great!

Thank you Abigayle, Rene and Kah Ming for helping with this retrieval.

This post first appeared on the wild shores of singapore blog which has more about other happenings on the shore during this retrieval effort.

More about Pulau Semakau.

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