A couple of weeks ago Richard discovered a sizable net in the TAR Park while conducting a deep dive with his Divemaster interns in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo.
The location of the net was noted for later removal and Downbelow’s Assistant Base Leaders, Bob & Wellson, were tasked with organising the net removal by leveraging the knowledge gained from a net removal workshop Richard had conducted recently.
Downbelow’s professional scuba diving interns, Paul, Joe and Shevvy, were well keen for the task and up for gaining invaluable net removal experience.
None of them had even been involved in this kind of operation before, so Bob & Wellson had their work cutout for them to ensure the plan of action was clear and, above all, safe.
When the team arrived at the site, what was thought to be an easy job turned out more complex. It became clear that 1 net was actually 2, both starting at around 9m and descended to more than 30m.
“Extra caution had to be taken as diver entanglement at these depths could be fatal,” said Richard, Downbelow’s resident PADI Course Director who oversaw the operation.
The team worked hard and systematically cut the net down to size. On his final accent, Richard noticed yet another net, which required a 2nd dive later in the day to remove.
Richard is also a passionate Marine Biologist and couldn’t hide his disgust when he said “this amazing animal has been basically unchanged and inhabiting earth for more than 450 million years and there they lay trapped in a discarded illegal modern day fishing net.”
“We managed to release a couple who survived and the net is now destroyed, so they are safe to roam the sandy slopes of Gaya Island once more” he said ending on a happy note.
Richard estimates that this day the Downbelow’s net removal team freed the South China Sea of around 5,400 ft² of sheer fishing net menace.
Well done to our professional scuba diving interns and the rest of the Downbelow crew for their service to nature.
Professional Scuba Interns Tackle Net in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo