Russ Vetter, from Leg III SHARK CRUISE. Fishing is a noble activity, both for recreation and as a livelihood, but facts are facts and lost fishing gear can cause problems in marine ecosystems. In today’s photo I show a blue shark that was caught on our line after an encounter with a piece of netting. No one will ever know if the shark tore through active fishing gear and escaped or encountered a piece of lost or abandoned fishing gear. Whatever the cause, the net became entangled around the mid section of the shark and had cut through the skin of the animal. We cut the gear off the shark and sent it on its way. We decided against tagging it to prevent any additional stress.
Whereever I have sailed, lost fishing gear is a commonly encountered, along with a host of other sources of human trash that dot the oceans. Our lab is presently monitoring the amounts of small plastic particles that come up in our plankton nets and NOAA ships have a standing policy to stop and remove drifting and abandoned nets (ghost nets) whenever they are encountered. ABOARD THE DAVID STARR JORDAN, Off San Diego, California