A team of divers from the SE Asia Explorers club yesterday removed a fishing net. It had been covering a large portion of one of the main dive sites on Koh Tao, Chumphon Pinnacles. Unfortunately in the surrounding area there is a lot of fishing. Sometimes the inevitable happens and a net catches on these underwater sea mounts. After diving Chumphon the day before the team had already seen the destruction left by the net on the reef and decided that it needed to be removed.
Removing the net
The team met the following day to discuss the best way to remove it safely. The net was attached along a wall section of the pinnacle from a depth of 25m up to 14m. Obviously there was a risk of divers becoming entangled. As a result it was decided to attach a number of lift bags along the bottom of the net. Then, gradually peel it from the reef. All the time keeping the divers below the net and out of harms way.
We headed out in the late afternoon so as to be the only boat there. Conditions were a little choppy but otherwise pretty good. As we descended there was a little current but soon we were in the lee of the pinnacle and began attaching the lift bags to the bottom of the net.
Naturally the team were concentrating on the job in hand but as we came towards the top one of the team spotted a large whale shark passing behind clearly checking we were doing the job correctly. We finished removing the net and began to head back to the line, but as we did so out of the blue came another whale shark! This time it was a 3-4 metre long baby, and as we hovered there it continued to swim around and over the team. This was a wonderful encounter especially as we were the only divers in the water. We reached the surface and found the net and lift bags and then dragged it to the RIB. The trip home was a little bumpy but after such a successful afternoon, no-one really minded.