Divers discover countless dead sharks in abandoned net off Cayman Islands

Divers discover countless dead sharks in abandoned net off Cayman Islands

- in World
Image by Dominick Martin-Mayes

While exploring the waters off the Cayman islands, a group of divers made a disturbing discovery – a massive floating “ghost net” with hundreds of dead sharks and other marine wildlife.

27-year-old fisherman and diver Dominick Martin-Mayes was out on the water with friends when they saw that they first thought was a giant floating log. Upon closer inspection, they discovered with horror that it was actually a massive ghost net.

The “solid net of dead, decomposing fish and sharks” was not enough to deter Martin-Mayes. He was quickly in the water, checking to see if there was any trapped marine wildlife that they could still rescue.

“I jumped in the water first and was shocked at what I saw. It took my breath away — the first thing I saw was the juvenile oceanic whitetip [shark],” said Martin-Mayes.

Soon, the rest of his party joined in the rescue efforts.

“I got my buddy who was with me to grab a knife and jump in,” he continued. “We did what we could to free some of the trapped life but most of it was already dead.”

Unfortunately, the small group soon had to abandon their attempts. Ghost nets are not just a danger to marine life – people can easily get tangled in them as well. 

“The net’s sole purpose in life is to kill,” said Martin-Mayes. “You get your hand wrapped in it and you drown.”

Efforts continued online though, with Martin-Mayes quickly sharing a photo of the gigantic net on Instagram. The heartbreaking photo set shows countless creatures stuck, trapped or dead in the net. 

Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been abandoned, lost, or otherwise left in the ocean by fishermen. In lowlight environments, these nets are nearly invisible. For marine life, they are death traps with little chance of escape. It’s been estimated that nearly 640,000 tonnes of ghost gear are left in the ocean every year – an amount of floating waste that can stay in the world’s water systems for up to 600 years.

Thankfully, this particular net was rediscovered by fisherman Charles Ebanks later on. The discarded net was towed into the Harbour house marina and lifted out of the ocean. Upon the last report, the net has been taken to a landfill, awaiting its proper disposal.

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