30 November 2011

What lies beneath...

I went diving at Ras Hamar (Donkey's Head) a few days ago. Along with a beautiful eagle ray and two large, dancing cuttlefish, I saw four guitar sharks.  This should have been a joyous occasion. Guitar sharks are rare, and it was the first time I'd ever encountered them, but instead it was heartbreaking. All four guitar sharks were DEAD - caught in fishing cages, along with other unsuspecting marine life.  The worst thing was that these cages weren't even attached to anything. Their ropes were long gone.  No-one will pull them up out of the water and they'll continue to act as marine exterminators.  Four magnificant creatures killed, for nothing.

Fishing cages seem to be becoming more & more prolific in our waters.  The last time I dived Ras Hamar, about 10 months ago, there were hardly any.  This time there were tell-tale marker buoys everywhere.  What, if anything, is being done to regulate fishing in the area?  No-one wants to deny fishermen their livelihood but there has to be a more sustainable way of doing things.  The fishermen don't dive - they don't know what's beneath them when they throw in their cages.  Not only are the reefs getting destroyed, but the fishing cages are ending up in places where the fishermen can't retrieve them because the ropes get caught up in rocky features.  No-one wins. The fishermen lose their cages and their catch, and the marine life perishes unnoticed. 

Oman needs to wake up to what it has and what it's destroying. Even if the environment in itself isn't Oman's top priority, it has to understand the economic ripple-effect of its actions.  Oman is intent on promoting itself as a tourist destination. Scuba-diving brings in big dollars (look at places like the Red Sea in Egypt).  If things continue this way Oman will lose the very attractions that tourists come for.  These marine creatures are worth a lot more alive in the sea than they are dead in a market, or rotting in a cage at the bottom of the ocean. 

Please do something to protect marine life before it's too late!!

Dead Guitar Sharks at Ras Hamar

Dead guitar sharks caught in abandoned fishing cages


London Lights To Mystical Oman said...

So sad to read about the Guitar Head sharks. :(

Thank you for your kind comment on my blog. I arrived in Salalah and am slowly discovering the beauty.

The Linoleum Surfer said...

Important issue, Mr Bug, and well-expressed. I will add it to the list!


Travelallergy said...

.... this is really sad! What also needs to be looked into is the sale of sharks in the market here and @ Lulu.
Thanks for this post!

kapil said...

Sad. But this is a classical situation that can only be sold through education.

I rem. an episode at Gujarat, where an independent film-maker went out of his way to make a documentary on the majestic whale shark, and toured the entire coast-line of Gujarat to educate the fishermen about how their nets are endangering the majestic creature and what they need to do in order to ensure minimal damage to it.