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‘Alarming’ amount of octopus pots being found

153189Simon Jones From BDA Sun

Scores of plastic octopus pots have washed up on the shores of Bermuda from as far afield as Mauritania and Morocco.

The remarkable finds have been made by beachcombers and environmentalists across the island over the last 12 months.

And the Bermuda volunteers are about to join forces with scientists in Florida as part of an international research project.

The plastic pots, which are used to catch octopus, have also turned up in the Bahamas, Little Cayman, Grand Turk and the US Virgin Islands.

The ones found in Bermuda have markings on them in Arabic, French and English and are believed to have drifted across the Atlantic from Africa on the currents.

Tom Pitchford, a wildlife biologist, has embarked on a major research project to trace the origins of the pots.

Mr Pitchford told the Bermuda Sun: “It’s remarkable that a loosely affiliated cadre of beachcombers are collecting these pots in the hopes of learning more.

“So far only three have been traced to where they were originally fished.

“Two to Mauritania and one to Morocco. It’s possible that some or all of the pots found in Bermuda belong to the Saharan Bank fishing grounds but that remains to be seen.

“The pots are fished in trawls on the bottom, tied together and to a surface float. Cement is ballast and weighs the pots down.  When the ropes break and the ballast is lost, the pots are freed to drift the currents.”

In the past similar octopus pots would have been made of terracotta and therefore remained at the bottom of the sea. But the shift towards plastics has resulted in many pots breaking free and drifting on the currents.”

Anne Hyde, executive director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, said that the octopus pots had been found at an ‘alarming rate’.

Ms Hyde, who is also a member of the Bermuda Marine Debris Taskforce added: “Just this weekend at Ariel Sands we came across three of these octopus pots in a matter of minutes.

“We are happy to be able to help Tom Pitchford and provide him with information that will help establish the source of these pots.

“KBB and our volunteers regularly conduct surveys on our beaches and the extent of plastic pollution is shocking. If we can tell the back story to a piece of debris then it brings the problem to life and makes it more interesting to the people involved in the clean-ups.”

For more on this story go to:–amount-of-octopus-pots-being-found/24/898/67348



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