Public Domain image via Wikipedia
Ghost nets are nets that are lost at sea and continue to kill wildlife. Off the California coast, a 9,000 pound ghost net is being removed from a ship sunk in 2006, thanks to a group of SCUBA divers and the Ocean Defenders Alliance.
The Infidel came to rest on its keel, about 150 feet under the sea. But in the turbid currents, the fine-mesh hemp and polypropylene net -- 40 feet high, several hundred feet long and made to last thousands of years -- wrapped itself around the wreck and became a deadly snare for marine life.
It has been entangling and killing sea lions, dolphins, sharks and fish ever since, littering the sandy bottom with skulls and bones picked clean by crabs.
Thankfully, a group of very brave volunteer divers got together to remove much of the net entangling the ship. It's a dangerous dive because of low visibility and high risk of getting wrapped up in the net.
"Once you start cutting, visibility drops from 30 feet to zero because the water clouds up with particles and tiny creatures that get shaken loose," [diver Cinde MacGugan] said. "At one point, I was frantically cutting off pieces of netting when one or more was tugged upward by an air bag.
"I looked around and discovered that I was in a kill zone. There were tons of bones and a bunch of sea lion skulls by the propeller and a whole shark caught in the fabric. My fellow divers were close by and had their eyes on me as I backed out into the clear."
800 square feet have been removed, but it may take as many as 9 more days of diving before the whole thing can be removed.
This is just one example of killer ghost nets scattered throughout the ocean. But it's also an example of great activism, and one fewer dangerous net haunting the coast.