BOCA RATON, FL (June 1, 2011) Cutting and discarding stuck or snarled fishing line in the water might be the quickest way to get back to fishing, but it also increases the risk of injury and death to dolphins, manatees, birds, and turtles. Recently, in separate interventions two Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) living in the Indian River Lagoon were safely disentangled from harmful monofilament fishing line. With approval from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Marine Mammal Research and Conservation staff from FAU’s Harbor Branch led efforts to safely capture and disentangle the two dolphins. Both animals have been disentangled in previous interventions, each one deemed life threatening, and considered ‘high-risk’ because of the age and compromised health conditions of each animal.
Lost and improperly discarded fishing line and other ensnaring gear can be deadly to marine mammals, sea turtles and birds. When entangled, the animals can suffer strangulation, constriction—even amputation—of wings, fins and flippers, as well as death from infection and/or asphyxiation. Proceeds from Florida’s Protect Wild Dolphins specialty auto license tag help cover the cost of interventions and stranding operations. Harbor Branch marine mamm als program manager and ‘capture lead’ Stephen McCulloch explains, "Both of these animals have entangled before, reinforcing the need to increase awareness and outreach to inform people that fishing line and other ensnaring plastics persist in the environment and continue to pose a threat to dolphins, turtles, and birds for a long time after they have been discarded or lost. Because these items persist for so long, the quantity of ensnaring items increases, and so do the opportunities for dolphins to get entangled."
NOAA Fisheries Service and the Stranding Network members encourage people to report entangled, injured, or dead dolphins to the marine mammal stranding hotline at 1-877-WHALE HELP (1-877-942-5343).
With your help, we can help prevent another life-threatening entanglement for these animals and other local dolphins.
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent more injuries to all bottlenose dolphins:
- Never cast your net or line towards dolphins, especially if they are engaged in feeding activities.
- Never feed wild dolphins; it’s illegal and teaches dolphins to beg people for food and draws them dangerously close to fishing gear and boat propellers. Visit www.dontfeedwilddolphins.org.
- Observe wild dolphins from safe distances of at least 50 yards whenever possible.
- Avoid touching, swimming, or otherwise closely interacting with wild dolphins, even if they approach you.
- Reel your fishing line in when dolphins are near to prevent interactions and entanglement in fishing gear.
- Inspect your fishing gear often to avoid unwanted line breaks – even small amounts of gear in the water can be harmful to dolphins if entangled or ingested.
- Place all broken or used fishing line in a monofilament fishing line recycling bin or a lidded trash can. In the Titusville region, local fishing line recycling bins can be found at: www.VolusiaFishingLineRecycling.org.
- Purchase a Protect Wild Dolphins specialty license plate.
Help us drive the message home about the importance of protecting wild dolphins and the oceans we share by Purchasing a Protect Wild Dolphins specialty license plate for your car, truck, RV or trailer.
All of your $20 donation supports rescue and research efforts of the Harbor Branch-FAU Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Program (MMRC) and others involved in marine conservation and education efforts. Visit www.ProtectWildDolphins.org for program and ordering information.