Our instructors and dive masters reported they spotted a huge drift net on the shallow side of Labas Island. This site is one of the highlights of diving in Tioman with a maze of swim-thrus created by the huge boulders of the island. The position of the site also means it is vulnerable to drifting debris from the prevailing currents and unfortunately from direct fishing, careless snorkelers and divers on the site itself.
At the first opportunity we headed out to Labas, and sure enough a huge drift net was standing tall at about 11m depth. It took 3-4 minutes to swim its length and we could see the damage caused due to entanglement and wave action. Coral clumps that became tangled were overturned as the waves pulled the net to and fro in recent swell and fragments of coral were broken off and stuck fast in many places. We also found a number of crustaceans that had their spikey shells caught and unable to move.
The team set about the delicate task of removing net entwined around hundreds of staghorn coral branches. 5 team members removed a whopping 8kg of net, 8kg of sinkers and 5kg of other trash including glass jars, metal parts, plastic bottles, floats and fishing hooks in just under an hour.
The net is almost completely gone, with one small section remaining to be removed during our next visit (there was a group training near the area and we didn’t want to interfere).
The ongoing battle against marine debris continues. At B&J Diving Centre, we Dive Against Debris every day – there is rarely a dive when our Divemasters, Instructors and customers come up empty handed of some form of trash. We intend to complete more regular debris surveys next season and respond to as many sightings of nets and other trash as possible.
If you are interested in helping out then please get in touch with Nic (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can arrange a survey for the time when you visit the island.