On the second of September, freelance instructor Jerome walked into the dive shop saying that he and his student Laura, would like to do a dive to remove a net, which was stuck on the house reef. I immediately volunteered to help.
Since there are often strong currents at this dive site, we normally only do drift dives. So for this dive we also drifted. The net was located near the end of the dive in a place where there can be strong down currents. Consequently this worried me.
Starting at the usual beach entry we spent the first fifteen minutes swimming with the gentle current, staying shallow, trying to conserve our air supply. When we approached the area where the net had been spotted, we dropped down to 15 meters. Starting to wonder where the net was, I suddenly saw something spread across the sandy bottom.
Removing the net
Swimming closer confirmed it was a small piece of the net, broken off from the rest, which I could now see extending out of sight. First of all I got the attention of Jerome and Laura, called them over so I could point out the net. Jerome signaled for me to work on the small piece while he and Laura went to explore the expanse of the bigger net.
Starting down current of the net I gently lifted it up. There were many small pieces of coral and sponges stuck inside. Using my knife I gently cut as many of these out as I could but it was a long and slow process. I quickly discovered that it was actually two nets that had become tangled within each other; this is why there was so much coral stuck inside.
Finally after over 30 minutes of cutting and rolling the nets into a ball, I removed the last piece from the coral. Inflating my BCD, I swam over to Jerome and Laura who were also working hard. I found a loose end, placed my ball of net on the sand and started the process of cutting and rolling again.
It was here that I pulled a portion of the net from under a rock. The net started moving. Consequently I gave a little scream of surprise into my regulator. Jerome heard it and signaled to ask if I was ok. I lifted the net up to show him the fish that was completely entangled. He laughed and swam over so he could help me free the trapped creature.
As we released the fish Laura signaled to me that she was low on air. It was time to go up. I picked up my bundle and turned around where two giant pufferfish were fighting over the smaller fish.
On the surface Jerome’s first comment was “That poor fish”.
“At least it became food for other fish” I replied.
After a 65 minute dive we had only removed a small portion of the net. Jerome and Laura went back two more times and managed to retrieve the rest of it.