GHOST NET TRAPS 15 TURTLE HATCHLINGS ON ASTOLA ISLAND

hatchlings
Green turtle hatchlings entangled in a ghost net conglomerate

Zain Warsi’s incredible rescue:

Being an adventure enthusiast, I’m always looking for new places to explore, especially those that have not been commercialised yet. Astola Island has been on my list for a very long time now and I finally got an opportunity to visit the Island and spend the night there.

 

Astola Island, also known as Jezira Haft Talar (Urdu: جزیرہ ہفت تلار‎) Satadip or ‘Island of the Seven Hills’, is a small uninhabited Pakistani island in the Arabian Sea approximately 25 km (16 mi) south of the nearest part of the coast and 39 km (24 mi) southeast of the fishing port of Pasni. 

Here’s how I got to Astola: Me along with 30+ other daring individuals gathered at a common meeting point (Usmania restaurant) in Karachi. We left for Winder from Karachi at 1am. Winder is approx. 90km from Karachi and it takes about 3 hours to get there. We reached Winder at 4am, where we had breakfast. Winder itself is a small town where truckers make pit stops to rest or eat. We then left for Ormara city at 5am. Ormara is approx. 275km from Winder and takes about 4 hours to get there. After a small stop at the Ormara beach (which I personally think is the most beautiful beach of Pakistan), we traveled further, to Pasni. Pasni is 175km from Ormara and takes 2.5 hours to reach. By noon we had reached Pasni.
So, after reaching Pasni we realised that the water level was not high enough for us to take our boat from the harbour, into the ocean; therefore we waited, and waited and at 8pm in the evening, we finally got on board and left for Astola at 9pm. We reached Astola at 12:30 in the morning; since the boat could not get close to shore, we got off into the water (approx. 1km from the shore) and swam/walked to the island.
After that everyone settled down, changed into dry clothes and started exploring the coast. We didn’t summit to the top because it was too dark, and there were a lot of crabs on the coast. These crabs were beautiful with intricate designs on their shells. After a bit of exploring, we set up our tents away from the crabs, and had dinner. post dinner some of us slept, while my friends and i decided to reach the top of the island. It was dusk by then. It took us half an hour to get to the top. The view was breath taking. You see to separate beaches from the top. After that, a friend of mine Dhanak, and I came down and went to the other side of the beach; there’s a mosque there. Its a basic mosque with colourful flags outside

 

Green turtle hatchlings
Zain Warsi rescuing turtles from a ghost net

Ghost Nets Haunt the Island:

On our way back from the mosque we spotted a clump of ghost nets. I went upto these nets, to pull them out of the rocks they were stuck in. That is when I saw 4 green turtle hatchlings stuck in the twine. One of them was fidgeting while the other three weren’t moving. At first I thought the other three were dead. I started untangling the one moving, carefully removing one twine at a time. After I untangled it, I went a bit further into the water and let it swim away. Then I rushed back to the remaining three. To my luck, they were all alive but probably tired from trying to escape  from the net .
Funny, I kept talking to them, giving them a pep talk to not lose hope. I think it worked!  After that my friend and I noticed another ghost net close by, this one much bigger, with 11 more green turtle hatchlings stuck in the net. We instantly got down to business and started rescuing them. There was one turtle who was stuck in the net, submerged in the water and couldn’t come up to the surface to breathe. After untangling it, I noticed that the poor thing wasn’t moving, but I did notice that it was gulping, so I kept it on the sand and sat with it for a while after which it started moving and mustered the energy to swim back into the ocean
From that point on, I was very vigilant while walking back to my tent, looking out for my ghost nets, removing them, and for turtles. Luckily I didnt find any more hatchlings stuck, but I did come across several ghost nets. A couple of hours later we left for Pasni. After reaching Pasni, we changed and left for Karachi. A few pit stops later, we reached Karachi at 1am in the morning.
hatchling-3
Lucky hatchling swimming away to freedom – good luck little fella.

ORP’S Work in Pakistan..

 

The Olive Ridley Project is collaborating with WWF-Pakistan, Ocean Conservancy and World Animal Protection in our ongoing commitment to tackle ghost gear in Pakistan.  Our projects focuses on educating local fishing communities, protecting wildlife from ghost gear and offering alternative livelihoods for fishing communities.
This Project is part of ORP’s commitment to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative to ensure safer, cleaner oceans by driving economically viable and sustainable solutions to the problem of ghost fishing gear globally.  We our confident our project will become replicable to other small scale fishing villages within Pakistan and beyond. Stay tuned for updates on this project.