A scuba operator made the grim discovery of a juvenile silky shark inside a “floating ghost net” in the channel close to Stingray Sandbar last week.
The shark had become entangled in the large green polypropylene net and drowned.
George Evans, of Silver Thatch Watersports, was returning from a dive trip with a boat full of tourists when he discovered the net floating in the channel.
He and his staff hauled the net on board and took the dead shark back to the dock at Kaibo where they were met by Department of Environment staff.
“It was upsetting for the guests to see something like that,” said Mr. Evans.
“If it had ended up on the Sandbar, it would have been even worse.”
The net appeared to have floated in from the open ocean where it had been discarded by fishermen. Its origin or how long it had been floating in the ocean remain unknown.
Mr. Evans said there were bits of ocean debris entangled in the net but no other marine life.
Alan Mackay, the DoE conservation officer who was on the scene at Kaibo, said the shark was around four feet in length and appeared to have died recently.
He said he was thankful that the net had been removed from the ocean and could do no more damage.
“If it had ended up on the Sandbar, that could have been incredibly dangerous, if a swimmer got entangled in it, or it got wrapped around a boat propeller.”
The find follows an incident last year where a larger ghost net was discovered by fishermen several miles off Grand Cayman. The net appeared to be filled with dead animals, including sharks and other marine life.
At the time, experts, including Cayman-based conservationist Guy Harvey, said ghost nets were a huge international problem.
He said nets, often cut loose by rogue fishermen on the run from authorities, could roam the oceans for years, entangling marine life.