Thursday, June 05, 2008

UST Beach-Cleanup Pics (2)

Here are some more photos.

A crab, being freed from net.

The net being pulled up.

Volunteers, ready to release entangled sea-life.

The baby octopus, as it is biting my thumb.

UST Beach-Cleanup Pics (1)

Here are some of the pictures I jsut gro from Raymond and Albert. You can find more here.

Before the dive, people still looked very happy.

Me, pulling up net.

Albert, with some of the net.

UST Beach Cleanup Videos

Raymond just send me some media-files from last Sunday. So here are some videos, where you can see how the net is pulled on-shore. You can spot Kostia and I out in the water, pulling more net from the ground.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

UST Beach Cleanup on my Birthday

For the fourth time, I participated at the UST beach cleanup. This year’s operation was a bit smaller and more professional than the previous years. Raymond and Albert asked twelve divers to remove two ghost nets that had been discovered in front of the UST pier.

Previously, two divers had marked the nets with buoys, ca. 50 and 100m north-east of the pier. With my buddy Kostia and two other divers, I was to recover the second one. The initial plan had been to first free all entrapped sea-life, and then chop the net in pieces, and stow it in large plastic bags for removal. I offered that Kostia and I would start at the opposite end of the net, as not to get into the way of the other two divers. We descended to 5 meters, and followed the net. After ten minutes, and ca 200 meters, it was obvious that this net was way too big to be removed one meter at a time. Also, I became curious, as where the net had lead us. I quickly surfaced, and to my biggest surprise found me only 20 meters from the southern tip of the UST pier. Instead of chopping the net into pieces, I decided that we would beach it. Kostia and I then cut loose any parts of the first 30 meters of net, lifted it to the surface, and called for support from land. The crew from the HK Underwater Association threw us a life-buoy with a rope which we tied to the net. Then it was theirs to pull the net on shore. We kept swimming on the surface, pulling up the net. While Kostia held onto the net, I descended again, and freed it from various rocks. Pulling up the net was a gruesome job, and the land-crew had a hard time, especially since it stood four meters above the waterline. However, I noticed that net ran parallel to the pier, and at one point was only 20 meters from the lower part of the ramp leading into the water. I thus freed the remaining part of the net, and dragged it to the northern end of the pier. The land crew was thus able to recover a large part of the net, ca. 100 meters. On land, a happy group if divers and passerby had started to cut loose and crab, fish and clams, and throw them back into the water.

Unfortunately, we were not able to recover the entire net. For one thing, there were other shorter nets that were stuck to the large one we recovered. These smaller nets commonly ripped free from the large one, and stayed on the sea floor. At the same time, I suspect that the long net ripped, and there are still fractions of it on the sea bed.

From this experience, I have some idea of how to recover the remaining nets, next time. We will have to lift the nets to the surface, and attach them to buoys (empty 20 liter canisters). Then they can be easily pulled to the beach. The divers only have to descent infrequently, and cut the net from rocks. As I said, next time …

Kostia unfortunately overexhausted himself slightly, and upon surfacing fertilized the University’s well-maintained flower-beds with last nights supper. He really did not look well, and I quickly drove him home. This incident was a bit strange, since he is in much better shape than me. I hope he forgives me for the trip, and continues scuba-diving.

On land, there were several people fishing with rods. One gentleman had a small container, carrying two fish, a tiny crab, and a juvenile octopus with a six centimeter body and 14 cm tentacles. I asked if I could have the octopus, as to release it in the ocean, and the fisherman happily agreed. Only, I was stuck with removing the creature from the tank, and carry it back to the water. I had a hard time, because I was afraid of hurting the animal. Once I had it safely on my palm, and carried it to the water, it bit into my thumb, leaving a bleeding thank-you note. Still, it made me very happy, thinking that I might see it again, once it has fully matured.

At the end of the day, we were totally exhausted, but super happy. Next year, I am looking forward to flying to HK, just to participate in the annual cleanup.

Unfortunately, I was way too busy too take photos, and will have to wait until Raymond sends me some of his shots.