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Sun 13 Mar 2005

More than 100 horsehoe crabs rescued from gill net at Mandai

Category : marine

Graduate students from Duke University, US, on a Tropical Urban Ecology course conducted by Dan Ritschoff, visiting scientist and Honorary Raffles Museum Associate Paul Clark of the Natural History Museum, UK, and Raffles Museum volunteers (Toddycats!), were out on a field trip at Mandai mangroves last night.

We found more than 100 rare horseshoe crabs (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) entangled in a newly setup gill net. The horseshoe crab is a rare and endagered "living fossil" whose numbers have dropped significantly in the last 20 years. It was a shock to see so many trapped to a certain death. A few had died but the rest were alive, thankfully due to the current tidal cycle which innundates the shores during the blazing hot hours of the day.

We managed to free all the animals the same night and brought the net back to the museum for disposal. More photos here.

A ghost or abandoned net results in deadly entaglement - and many are removed by marine researchers, volunteers and rangers who encounter them regularly. A pair of sharp-pointed scissors or the serrated blade of a safety knife is extremely useful tool for the job, so carry one with you when you visit our shores.

Two weeks ago 15 horseshore crabs and a seahorse were released from a net at Kranji mangroves by Wong Yueat Tin, Serena Teo and Tan Koh Siang, out on a mollusc field trip on 23rd February 2005. Last July, Habitatnews featured the net removal at Lazarus Island. Nets have been removed and animals rescued repeatedly from ghost net entaglements from Chek Jawa's shores by volunteers and NParks staff since 2001.

In the past we have also released snakes and birds from abandoned nets (read Battling the curse of marine litter).

Sometimes, though, I have encountered these nets too late, and all that remains are the stinking, rotting carcasses of dozens of animals.

Serena Teo (Tropical Marine Scence Institute) who has frequented our shores since the mid 1980's says, "I do that [animal rescue] almost everytime I go out [to our shores]. These nets are a menace."

Posted at 8:02AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news