30 Apr 2022

Welcome (back) Ghost Diving USA

Ghost Diving, formerly Ghost Fishing, has officially arrived in the United States. Naming Southern California as home for the United States chapter is not an expansion to a new territory; instead, it is a warm welcome home after a long journey. Ghost Fishing first arrived in Southern California in the mid 2000s spearheaded by Karim and Heather Hamza. Their team, a group of volunteer technical divers, set out to improve the health and viability of the Southern California waters. The team started with the Infidel, a sunken squid fishing vessel near Catalina Island in 45 m/150 ft. They diligently worked to clean the Infidel which took almost two years. This victory was huge for their effort. Sadly, due to lack of funding, they were unable to continue other projects. Despite this hardship and some time away from their pursuit of the ghosts, Karim and Heather are back and more motivated than ever. We are happy to welcome (back) Ghost Diving USA!

On April 28th, we carried out our first ghost net recovery project an hour off the coast of the city of Los Angeles, in California! What could have been more fitting than cleaning a wreck that was blown in two pieces and sunk for the filming purposes of a Hollywood movie? That's the story of the USS Moody that in 1933 made its final plunge for the movie “Hell Below.”

In the morning hours, six volunteer divers together with a dozen friends and partners of Healthy Seas, headed toward the wreck that rests off San Pedro. The divers descended to 150 ft (45 m) and despite bad visibility and a strong current, the well-trained team successfully recovered 300 lbs (135 kgs) of a mixture of tuna and squid nets during a single dive. The area is covered by kelp forests, one of the ocean’s most diverse and productive ecosystems.

Who says divers are the only ones that are able to save marine life? When the nets reached the surface, there were many hands on board ready to help release any living creatures that were entangled or growing on the nets: crabs, worms and sea anemones.

During the departure and arrival back to San Pedro, the sight of humpback whales, dolphins and playful sea lions acted as a living reminder of why we were there, as these beautiful animals are often the victims of pollution caused by fishing waste.

The nets recovered will become a new resource, supporting a circular economy. Healthy Seas founding partner Aquafil will regenerate the nylon parts that together with other nylon waste will become ECONYL® yarn, the basis for new sustainable products such as socks, swimwear, activewear, carpets and more. Bracenet will process some of the nets as well and turn them into beautiful handmade accessories. In addition, in a continued effort to raise public awareness about the ghost fishing phenomenon, we collaborated with Andrea Martina Isenschmid, an artist that will creatively repurpose the recovered materials.

A networking event at Zen Dive Co wrapped up the day. Besides the local Media, guests included representatives of DWS, the main supporter of our launch in the USA and many brands, partners of Healthy Seas, that create consumer products from the fishing nets in the US and beyond: Aquafil, Bracenet, Kaira Active, Santos Swim and Karün.

There is a lot more to be done in the area and that's why we look forward to continuing regular sea cleanups. The Ghost Diving USA team are already surveying the wreck of UB88 and Farnsworth Bank, a beautiful reef that is populated by the very rare purple hydrocoral.

website DESIGNED & DEVELOPED by imadFarhat