An all-too-common seabird menace: fishing gear injuries

IMG_3048According to last year’s data, about 22% of Brown Pelicans cared for by International Bird Rescue’s rehabilitation staff had confirmed injuries resulting from fishing gear, such as hooks and monofilament line, which can cause fatal constriction wounds.

And in 2013, we’ve seen a consistently high number of such injuries.

This Brown Pelican was found on November 12 at Dockweiler Beach in Los Angeles and rescued by Marine Animal Rescue. Upon intake at our Los Angeles center in the San Pedro neighborhood, we removed multiple hooks off this bird, some severely embedded.

International Bird Rescue rehabilitation technician Kelly Berry reports that the pelican was emaciated and dehydrated, but has since gained over 300 grams and is living in an outside enclosure. The wounds caused by the hooks are receiving treatment on a daily basis.

For more reading on fishing gear pollution and what we can do to limit this nuisance from the marine environment, we heartily recommend SeaDoc Society’s Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project website.

Why do we show these images? After reading a recent post on fishing tackle injuries among seabirds, I realized that it may not be evident to everyone why we post these images and share these birds’ stories on our blog. It’s because fishing tackle and pollutants are daily obstacles for these animals, and we want everyone to know this. The real rub is that ALL of these problems can be fixed with just a little effort. Simply picking up discarded fishing line and tackle wherever you see it on a beach or pier, cutting it into small pieces and disposing of it makes a big difference. Many of these birds become entangled and injured by discarded fishing line and tackle that we walk by every day. — Jay Holcomb

Photos by Julie Skoglund