Tuesday, February 19, 2008

1 Weekend = 7 dives

I managed to get in 7 dives over the long weekend, 1 on Friday and 2 each on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I saw turtles, nudibranchs, lionfish, eels and tons of other things, but by far the most impressive was this Napolean Wrasse at the Grotto. I managed to see him on 2 different dives on different days, which I hope means that he's considering making that area his new home. While not as big as the ones that were speared and appeared in the newspaper recently, this guy was probably a good 60-70 pounds anyway. He made the Bluefin Trevally above him look small, and the Trevally was a good 2 feet long. I'm not about to go jumping into the debate about spearing such a fish and whether or not they're actually endangered. I just want to say it was extremely awesome being in the water with such a huge fish.
While I may be staying out of the spearfishing debate, I am not staying out of the illegal fishing at the Grotto issue. The illegal fisherman have been hitting it harder and harder lately, but this last weekend it was absurd how much fishing line, lead sinkers, pieces of rebar, bolts, nuts, and chunks of concrete that are used for sinkers I cleaned off the coral and the cliff line outside the Grotto. On my Friday dive I noticed that the entire cliff line on the outside between holes #2 and #3 was spider webbed with fishing line. It was also stretched across the opening of the little canyon that divers swim through between the cliff and the big boulder outside of #2. It would have been very easy for a tourist to become entangled in this fishing line and not be able to get loose. Those kind of situations are the ones where panic sets in and tragedy is usually the result. Think I'm exaggerating about the problem at the Grotto? Well take a look at a few of these pictures, and keep in mind these are from this weekend alone. I cleaned the same areas last weekend, so this is all just from one weeks worth of illegal fishing. I pulled over 25 lead sinkers out of the water this weekend, and that's not counting all the chunks of rebar, bolts, concrete and everything they use for sinkers.
Here you see the fishing line tangled in one of the coral formations. Sadly this is what our tourists are seeing more and more when they dive the Grotto. Before they head down on their dive they read the signs about how this is a Marine Sanctuary and protected, and then they get down there and see that we really don't mean it, there is fishing line everywhere.
Fishing line isn't the only thing still littering the Grotto, the Budweiser drinking pigs still seem to be making their visits to the Grotto. I generally pick up 3-4 of these cans during each weekend as well. I guess it's just too much work for these beer guzzling weeneies to carry their own empty cans up out of the Grotto, so I carry them all out with me, in addition to my 75 pounds of gear and all the fishing line and sinkers. My apologies for the blur in the picture, I used my underwater camera and it still had a drop of water on the lens. This was what I brought up out of the Grotto after my Friday dive.
This is what I cleaned off the cliff line Saturday morning after just having cleaned it the day before.
On my 2nd dive Saturday afternoon I pulled this fishing line and sinkers off the cliff line and the coral. Sunday morning I went back out to the same places I had cleaned the day before and this is what I pulled off the cliff line and the coral the very next day. Obviously it wouldn't be rocket science to catch these lawbreakers as they seem to be fishing every single night, so why isn't anybody with the authority doing anything about it? I also saw a fish swimming around inside the Grotto who had been hooked and had a long piece of fishing line trailing from his mouth. Is this really what we want our diving tourists to see at the Grotto? Once again, we have made the laws, but we don't have the desire to enforce our laws and to have them do any good, the proof is in the pictures.


Kyle and Svet Keeton said...

Yea! You are back!

Now we have beautiful pictures of the ocean to grace our computer screen!

Hope all went well writing the book..

Kyle & Svet

Bruce A. Bateman said...

HArry, Have you forwarded these pictures and your commentary to Fish and Wildlife? ..or to CRM? ...or to DPS? Any and all would be a good idea, then follow up to see if action has been taken.

Strict enforcement of no take zones INCREASES fish populations in the whole region. You know that, I know that, F&W knows that...it is some of the fishermen who don't know but should learn. It would help us all.

Dominic said...

Hey Harry,

When you pick up a beer can from Grotto next time, could you please take a close up picture of the "Born-on-date" so we can see just how recent it was dumped there? I mean one of those cans looks pretty fresh, its not like they made there way down there AFTER anti-littering laws.

Good job nice pics


Unknown said...

this is Christy Ellison, used to be Christy Schweizer, friend of Bridget Adams. Didn't you used to be FEBC?

Harry Blalock said...

Hi Christy, yup, that's me. I'm now managing KZMI & KCNM, I've been at these stations for about 7 years now.

Unknown said...

Wow, totally weird how I came about your blog. Congratulations on your photos, been looking at them since I sent the post. You have some phenomenal pictures. I think I'll order some for a wall I need to decorate.