A team of free divers removed nearly 100,000 pounds of debris and ghost nets from reefs and beaches off of Hawaii.
Team members with the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project (PMDP), a Hawaii-based non-profit organization, returned to Honolulu on Saturday aboard the 185-ft ship M/V Imua cleared 97,295 pounds of marine debris — including 86,000 pounds of ghost nets — from reefs and beaches of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands).
Ghost nets, or large, tangled masses of discarded fishing nets, get caught on shallow coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands, which smother and break living coral colonies. The nets also threaten endangered marine wildlife.
“One single trawl net the team discovered at Kamokuokamohoaliʻi was found plastered across nearly 200 feet of reef by the ocean currents and had smothered much of the living coral underneath it, ” says Sarah Marquis, NOAA affiliate. “These nets also pose a major entanglement hazard for most marine wildlife, most notably the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, of which only 1,500 remain. Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu) and many species of seabirds are also vulnerable to this threat.”
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