By Isabelle Zhou

All is quiet. Tranquil waves of everlasting blue layer upon each other. It is a seemingly peaceful day at Doheny Beach. However, looks are deceptive. Deep under the blue sea, millions of marine skeletons litter the ocean floor. Each one holds its own eerie story, but they all share one tale: the cause of their demise. Unbeknownst to the world above, an undersea epidemic is rapidly spreading. This deadly disease is known as ghost fishing, and millions are slaughtered by it each year.

What Is Ghost Fishing?

"Often, fishermen and fisheries leave their used nets and traps in the ocean. These nets and traps float around, capturing and killing thousands of innocent marine animals. After several weeks, the nets and traps become so weighed down with dead fish, dolphins, etc., that they slowly sink to the bottom of the sea. Once on the sea bed, it remains there for hundreds of years, as an eerie symbol of our impact upon this earth.”
To try and stop this severe problem, six students are racing against time to spread public awareness, raise funds, and clean up beaches. From Rancho San Joaquin Middle School in Irvine, these six students have chosen ghost fishing as their topic for the QuikScience 2013 Competition.They have already educated numerous local schools and hosted several fundraisers. To further educate the public, they are putting up signs about this problem in local shopping centers and are also in constant contact with both national and international marine organizations, such as Bag-a-Surf, Sea Shepherds, Ocean Defenders Alliance, and Ghost Fishing. They have made various trips into nearby harbors to clean up ghost nets and are also proposing a series of measures that, if effective, can greatly reduce the number of ghost nets left in harbors.

How do you stop this problem? Simple. Spread the word so more people are aware of this problem, attend beach cleanups to clean up ghost nets, and never leave your fishing rod in the sea!

A Net Left Today, A Life Lost Tomorrow.

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