ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For the next two weeks, groups of volunteers can visit protected areas where our gorgeous coastal birds nest, in order to remove fishing line from their habitat.
Tampa Bay Watch and Audubon Florida teamed up for their annual fishing line island cleanup. Staring today, groups of volunteers can register on tampabaywatch.org and head to different protected areas to help remove tangled fishing line from the mangroves and shorelines.
Jeff Liechty, a costal biologist with Audubon Florida says the real trouble begins when recreational fishermen snag their line in a mangrove, and cut the line and leave it there.
“Its a real hazard to birds that can get entangled in it and stuck there,” he explained.
A second major hazard, is when a fisherman hooks a bird and cuts their line in order to free them. The bird then takes that line back to their nesting habitat where there are deadly consequences.
“It just breaks my heart to see these birds dead in the trees, healthy adults that are part of the breeding community, just dying because of carelessness,” said volunteer Ann Paul.
Paul recommends to learn how to properly and safely free the bird should they become hooked. It’s crucial a fisherman doesn’t cut their line.
Watch here: https://www.tampaaudubon.org/hooked-birds
In years past, this annual cleanup can yield up to a mile of discarded fishing line.
The cleanup is still looking for more volunteers. To get involved please visit https://tampabaywatch.org/event-calendar/