When Sea Shepherd’s Farley Mowat was patrolling the Gulf of California for illegal fishing nets, crew members spotted a “strange shape on the beach.” As the boat sailed closer, they were shocked to discover a dead humpback whale on the sand.
“As soon as we approached the body of the whale, it was evident that he probably died of something other than natural causes,” said crew member Benjamin Sawicki. The whale was found with abrasions across the flippers and tail. Sea Shephard cites “clear signs of entanglement.”
Gillnets were to blame for this tragedy. Used in the commercial fishing industry, these nets float vertically in the water like a floating spider web and catch large amounts of fish in one fell swoop as they’re dragged across large areas of water.
Sadly, and not surprisingly, gillnets also catch large amounts of everything else in its path – called “bycatch” – like birds and mammals. These unintended victims are often entangled in the path, as the nets do not discriminate between target fish and everything else.
Every year, nearly 650,000 marine mammals are injured because of these reckless practices. Sadly, 90 percent of the ocean’s apex predators have been wiped out in the past 55 years alone.
It’s devastating to witness such a massive, majestic creature, die at the hands of the commercial fishing industry. It’s time to demand our governments to take action against these horrible and destructive practices. If you’d like to learn more about Sea Shepherd’s incredible their work, visit their website.
How Can You Help?
You can help to make a difference for marine species with your diet. Aggressive fishing methods to meet demands for seafood contribute to the decimation all marine animals. By choosing to leave fish and seafood off your plate for one year alone you can save 225 fish and 151 shellfish. When you consider the fact that around 40 percent of all commercial fish catches are composed of bycatch, by keeping fish off your plate, you’re also helping to save countless other marine species who are unintentionally caught! To learn more about how you can help marine animals through your diet, join the #EatForThePlanet movement.
All Image Source: Sea Shepherd