Editor’s Note: This recent story out of Texas is a prime example of the nightmare of “ghost nets” and the damage they incur to already endangered marine life.
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – Fishermen fishing along the jetties on Tuesday made a sad discovery when they found an illegal net with nearly 1,000 fish trapped inside, including endangered sea turtles.
They’re bringing in their sixth load of the day, but these are not fishermen. And the nearly 1,000 dead fish are victims of a crime.
“It’s just a shame, killing indiscriminately,” says Jarret Barker with Texas Parks & Wildlife.
The Texas Parks & Wildlife game warden pulled out a mile-long worth of illegal gill net that had washed into the jetties.
“The jetties is kind of a congregating point for a lot of different species of fish and a lot of fish,” says Barker. “As a fish tries to swim through it, they get hung in their gills.”
That’s what happened to the several hundred sharks and a dolphin who died in the net. Nearly 20 endangered green sea turtles also got caught.
“All of the turtles we cut them out of the net, and we turned them over to the Sea Turtles Inc. Some of them appeared to be really lively; others had cuts on their fins and their flippers,” says Barker.
They’re nursing 13 of them back to health. Four sea turtles did not make it. The sea turtles will be released back into the ocean as soon as they are healthy.
If the person responsible for the net is caught, he or she could serve jail time.