The signal is given by our dive leader to start going down. One by one, we ‘Ok the line’ and start descending towards Temple. The visibility is a clear 15m+, with the divers veering off the line at the first sight of the buoys hovering over the reef. I had some slight trouble equalising and was more than happy to pull myself down the line. As I prepared to overtake the buoy, entangled in the descent line, I saw something wiggling out of the corner of my eye. There was a small blue fish, trying to break free from a net. Fishing out my knife I swiftly, yet carefully cut away the net and let the poor fellow go free.
-Images from a fish rescue by Jonah at Danny’s Eel Garden
This is something we witness once every 2-3 dives, where the horrors of modern day fishing do not stop with the fishing itself, but carry on damaging the underwater ecosystem in many such other ways.
There is a video running at the DC titled ‘Saving the Turtles’. It showcases the efforts of one of our friends, in rescuing two turtles from a huge net off the great Aravind’s Wall. And he has done that twice till now, off the coast of Pondicherry. A show of hands right now at the dive center, reveals that everyone has at least saved once during their dives, a bunch of fishes from the nets.
I recollect how once during a dive, we were trying to search for a gopro misplaced by a diver earlier, and then we encountered a huge wall of net just off Temple Reef. I took my eezy cut, positioned it between the net, and just kept on swimming till I ran out of No Deco time. Another one was on a dive trip in the Philippines, where we saved a Mantis Shrimp. It really pained me to see a creature from my bucket list, in the worst possible manner 🙁
I can keep on recounting my own experience as well as a thousand others from divers whom I know, but thats what we can only do right now. In the words of Iron Man, “If we cannot save the earth, you can be damn sure that we will avenge it”.
We have tried to get protective zones specially marked off the coast and we are building artificial reefs and strengthening the old ones to try and give at least a safe haven for the defenceless. A lot of our friends are trying to work with the government and the fishing industry to try and reduce the horrors of modern day fishing. Kudos to their efforts, as well.
The problem is not only with fishing nets. Garbage like plastics and bottles and in numerous other non biodegradable waste find their way ultimately to the oceans, and end up into a poor animal’s stomach, eventually killing it.
On this Earth Day, we at Temple Adventures would like to ask you to please help us in taking care of the earth, especially the oceans. Whenever you see a piece of garbage on the beach, or even on the road, please pick it up and put it in the nearest bin you can find. We do not ask you to reprimand others, but to just do your bit and to lead by example. When you are down diving, if you see a net or garbage, check if there is a living animal is living or has laid eggs in there and then safely (considering your own safety is not compromised at any step) try to remove that piece of trash from the ocean. Let us all pledge today, that we will try and bring back the ocean to how it once was before.