Fathoms Free are delighted to have held a join ghost gear retrieval event with members of the Sea Shepherd UK team on 14-15 October. After a long drive from North Wales, Tony and Phil arrived in *sunny* Cornwall where they were greeting by Rob, Natallia, Clare and Shirley. Everyone was excited to meet like-minded conservation activists and to share their stories, of which Sea Shepherds undoubtedly had most fascinating ones. We chilled for the rest of Saturday in a safe with a (somewhat rough) sea view, where plans and practices were discussed and a cheeky latte had, followed by a delicious vegan dinner and a lively conversation. All was ready for Sunday and we retired to get some sleep before a day of diving, boating and ghost gear recovery.
On Sunday morning, nice and early at 8am sharp-ish, we began our journey to Falmouth where we planned to launch our boat Casper. The journey and boat launch went without drama, and by late morning Tony, Phil, John, Natallia, Clare, Shirley and Rob were sat in the boat, ready to go get some ghost gear! The fist dive was on Volnay (http://www.divernet.com/wreck-tours/p301689-wreck-tour:-24the-volnay.html ). The divers descended down a shot line and up started popping lift bags attached to deadly ghost gear. After all divers were safely picked up we proceeded back to the Falmouth harbour for a bit of lunch and a change of cylinders. At this point we were joined by Fathoms Free volunteer Jes who brought her lovely kids, Lizzie and Oli, to meet our guests. Oli was really excited to meet the guys, as he is a big Sea Shepherd fan – he even wore his Sea Shepherd hoodie for the occasion. He could not believe his luck when he was presented with a hat that had been on campaigns in Japan and Faroe Islands!
After a short break the team headed out to Stanwood (Wrecksite-Stanwood) down the Fal estuary. The wreck was chosen due to its sheltered location, as the weather was turning. Similarly to the first dive, everything went smoothly: the divers went down, the lift bags came up, and soon everyone was back on the boat chattering about their dive. By this time thick fog had enveloped the estuary making it look eerie and dramatic. We knew we made the right decision by staying within the estuary and close to the harbour, as we could hardly see beyond 50 yards – not ideal if you are out in the open sea. Casper proceeded to the harbour at a safe speed, occasionally dodging super yachts coming out of the fog.
Once back, we took stock of the gear recovered, which included several lobster pots, sections of rope and net, a tyre, a bucket with paint and a paint brush, and ever-present plastic bottles. After a quick photo session, Casper was out of the water and equipment loaded into the cars. It was time to say good bye for now. Everyone had really enjoyed the event and pleased about the ghost gear that was now out of the sea and waiting to be disposed of appropriately. The Fathoms Free members are really pleased to work with Sea Shepherd UK on ghost gear recovery and look forward to future events.