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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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Ocean Ghosts Are Deadly

Posted On March 7, 2013 by

Entangled Sea Turtle

Credit: NOAA

Yes, there are ghosts in the ocean. Not your typical ghouls, goblins or gremlins; but there are innumerous inanimate creatures posing far greater danger to the underwater realm: ghost nets.

Ghost nets are just one component of the larger issue of derelict fishing gear, which comprises nets, lines, crab, lobster and shrimp pots, and other recreational or commercial fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned or discarded in the marine environment. With the introduction of synthetic gear following WWII, the effectiveness of fishing gear to snag and capture fish has become extraordinary.

Unfortunately, too often this gear becomes lost, abandoned or discarded in the marine environment where it can remain intact for hundreds of years. The same characteristics that make fishing nets incredibly effective at catching fish also create an extraordinary hazard when they go afloat. Once adrift in the ocean, derelict gear can remain intact for years destroying habitat, threatening navigation and entangling fishes, sea turtles, whales and other marine animals; this latter consequence is known as “ghost fishing.”

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