Monday, October 3, 2011

Two driftnets at Sisters Island (2 Oct 2011)

Two long driftnets were found laid in the reefy swimming lagoon of Big Sisters Island.
Fortunately, the team was experienced in dealing with this and quickly swung into action to document the animals trapped in the net, and release those that were still alive.

The first net was found laid from the reef edge well into the lagoon. It trapped many fishes and crabs.
Those that were still alive were carefully released. Here's one of the fishes that was released.
Photo by Rene Ong on facebook.
This Blue-spotted fantail ray was already dead. Another that was still alive was released.
Photo by Rene Ong on facebook.
A beautiful Yellowtail or Vermiculated angelfish that Russel managed to free from the net.
Photo by Russel Low on facebook.
Besides killing fish and crabs, the net also damaged living corals.
This small coral colony was completely wrapped in the net. It was gently released and placed back on the reef.
The nets were probably laid for sometime, probably several days. While some of the fishes trapped were still alive, many were dead. These dead fishes attract crabs, which also get hopelessly entangled in the net. Many reef crabs are poisonous and will probably be thrown away by the people who laid the driftnet. Driftnets result in a great deal of such wasteful by-catch.
As the tide was turning, Andy found a second net! We had to remove the net quickly so we didn't manage to document all the animals trapped in it.
Photo by Rene Ong on facebook.
Most of the fishes trapped were dead. There were many of them, probably about 40 fishes about 10-15cm long, with many crabs, probably 20.
Photo by Rene Ong on facebook.
One of the dead fishes in the net, which has already been eaten by scavengers on the reef.
Both nets were about 100m long and both seemed to be made up of two layers. A layer with a smaller mesh of about 5cm, and another layer of a much wider mesh of 30cm. For the first net we found, the fine-mesh net was made up of a kind of fibre, while for the second net the fine-mesh net was made up of monofilment plastic.
The approximate location of the two driftnets found at Sisters Island.
Thanks to the team who took action on the nets: Andy, Marcus, Nicole, Rene, Russel, Eddy and Fernando.

It is heart breaking to see nets not only laid but abandoned on our living reefs. The Sisters Islands has among the best reefs accessible to ordinary people. It is full of special corals and teeming with fishes, slugs, snails, crabs and other colourful marine life. More about the reef life seen during this trip on the wild shores of singapore blog.

Other posts of the driftnets and efforts to release the animals and remove the nets.

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