Audubon Florida News

Sarasota and Tampa Bay’s Wildlife Need Your Help This Saturday

posted on September 27, 2012 in Coastal Conservation,Events,Wildlife

From Audubon’s Tampa Bay Regional Coordinator Ann Paul:

My name is Ann Paul, and I’ve been working for Audubon’s Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries since 1991. Over these years, one of the saddest things I’ve seen related to birds is the terrible loss every year caused by discarded fishing line.  Fishing line entangles wildlife, often birds, and catches on trees or brush when the birds set down to roost.  Sometimes, birds are just caught by a hook, maybe when they were swimming near a pier where fishermen are dropping baited hooks into the water, or disposing of parts of cleaned fish.  Brown pelican adults and fledged birds are particularly impacted.  Even if the lines don’t snare in trees, birds with hooks and lines wrapped around them can’t feed efficiently and so slowly starve.

Nearly every time I visit sanctuary islands across the region to complete surveys, maintain signs, work with volunteers, or to conduct tours, I see birds dead, caught in trees by fishing line. I even see live birds hanging helplessly from mangroves. Of course, we remove all the fishing line we can, but sometimes we can not help. If the injured and entangled birds are so close to other nests that we would become a disturbance, we cannot rescue these individual birds.  This is a heart-breaking reality.

Even more heart-breaking is when we find line with bones or feathers in it.  We know then that a bird died there.  Usually these were otherwise healthy, productive individual birds, doomed to a unnecessary and brutal death.

So, we are asking for your help:

  • If you are a fisherman or woman, don’t cut the line if you accidentally caught an animal you didn’t want to, as a bird or turtle.  Instead, taking precautions to protect yourself from injury as wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes, reel in the poor thing and unhook it.
  • If you are in the field and encounter fishing line, pick it up and throw it away so that it doesn’t end up back in our habitats.
  • Volunteer for a fishing line cleanup this Saturday, September 29, 2012! We organize two in the fall every year when birds are not nesting on our sanctuaries, one with Tampa Bay Watch and one with Sarasota Bay Watch.  These are fun, it’s amazing how much line and other entangling material gets collected, and we are together making key habitats ready and safer for our healthy nesting birds next spring.

You can contact me or Mark Rachal, FCIS Sanctuary Manager, at 813/623-6826 or by email

Together, we make a real difference for wildlife, especially our Florida birds.

 You can now follow Audubon’s Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries on Twitter!

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