Healthy Seas has been collaborating with volunteers from Ghost Diving in several countries in Europe since 2013 to clear ghost fishing nets from reefs and wrecks. With the German volunteer diving chapter recently established, it was time to expand these challenging sea cleanup operations to Germany.
Surveys by wreck divers around the island of Norderney showed pollution from fishing activity is affecting the ecosystem of the German North Sea. It is estimated that 640,000 tons of fishing gear are lost or abandoned annually in the world’s seas and oceans leading to the suffering and death of millions of marine animals. To help mitigate this pollution, divers revisited three of the many shipwrecks lying on the seabed around Norderney during 13-16 September. Descending to 20-25 meters, they removed 300 kgs of fishing nets covering the wrecks of the MV Änne Ursula, the Vorpostenboot 812 and the SS Elsa.
While observing plentiful sea life including squid and shark eggs attached on the nets around the wrecks, the volunteers were able to release several animals from them, such as star fish, North Sea crab, butterfish, velvet crab and common spider crab. The days were exciting on the surface as well, with multiple sightings of grey seals around the diving boat and because of special support by actor Lenn Kudrjawizki, who lent a hand freeing several animals. In spite of the challenging weather and high waves, the team was able to dive for 3 consecutive days quite uncommon for this part of the world.
The 3-day cleanup project was also made possible thanks to the Group Gezeitentaucher that identified and surveyed the wrecks in the past years and thanks to Hyundai Motor Europe that announced its partnership with Healthy Seas back in April. They are providing funding for the implementation of cleanup and education activities.