True Ghosts

With commercial fishing so prevalent and profitable, it’s not surprising that fishing vessels would find ways to cut costs. Big trawlers sweep the ocean with huge nets catching as much product as possible. Because these nets are large and indiscriminate, it is not uncommon for them to get caught or snagged underwater.

Sea Turtles, like this Olive Ridley, frequently get caught and suffocated in drift nets all over the ocean.
Sea Turtles, like this Olive Ridley, frequently get caught and suffocated in drift nets all over the ocean.

Entangled nets are cut and cast off, and while no longer collecting sea food for trawlers, they continue to do what they are designed to: catch and kill animals. These are called Ghost Nets, drifting the open ocean causing death and waste.

In order to prevent these nets from causing damage for decades, they need to be collected and removed from the water.

Seals, Whales, Sharks and fish all fall victim to these Ghosts.
Seals, Whales, Sharks and fish all fall victim to these Ghosts. I am making a point of showing photos of live animals, instead of the victims of the gill nets and ghost nets currently wreaking havoc.

This is a task that is easier said than done.  Nets get snared on genuine or artificial reefs, shipwrecks, and other underwater topography.  Even when a net is removed one season, a new net may become ensnared on the same thing  the very next season.

GhostNet 12
A diver works to disentangle a net underwater. Photo credit to Dudley McLaughlin, aka Studley.

And the nets are heavy and entangled, making them difficult to remove. It takes time, energy, and money to remove these nets that makes up 10% of all ocean debris.  Usually, its not the offenders who are picking up after themselves.

GhostNet 2
Diver using lift bags to remove a section of ghost net from the ocean. These divers, again photographed by Dudley McLaughlin, working with Ocean Defender’s Alliance.

Groups like The Ocean Defenders Alliance work tirelessly to remove ghost nets from the ocean local to my home, but they also focus on educating the next generation about the benefit and necessity of a clean ocean.

GhostNet 16
Remove this waste from the water so that sea life can live their lives without the peril of the waste we leave behind. Photo credit to Dudley McLaughlin, working with Ocean Defenders Alliance

How can you help prevent ghost nets? Use your money to speak, and only patronize sea food restaurants or purchase seafood that is attained sustainably.  Learn what “by catch” is and avoid companies that don’t bother to minimize it.

The Blond Bomber, a sea lion with very obvious fishing line damage, is rehabilitated and released into the ocean. Is this the mark we want to leave? Photo image credit to Ingid Overgard at the Marine Mammal Center in Northern California


Better yet, become a volunteer and an ocean steward yourself: reduce your own waste and plastic consumption, and support companies that do the same.

I would like to recommend this beautiful site for an interactive ocean drift with a ghost net.  The Ghost Below 


Just a gentle reminder to all my readers out there,  Wikipedia is not always your best source, and it is smart to double check the information you’ll find there.  Here is a choice entry I found on Ghost Nets

“Acting as designed, the hunter uses nets to restrict movement, causing starvation, laceration and infection, and suffocation in those that need to return to the surface to breathe. So in all honesty these hunters are the actual living form of natural selection. They are used to remove the fish that are not productive to the aquatic economy, therefore reducing the strain on the other fish to support the good for nothing lazy fish that just drain the regular fish’s income by drawing unemployment and fishstamps.[2]“-Wikipedia. 

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