Tierra Verde - If you want to do one thing that will absolutely, positively help save wildlife in Tampa Bay, this is your chance! The public is invited to participate in the 13th Annual Monofilament Cleanup on Saturday, October 14th. Sponsored by Tampa Bay Watch and Audubon of Florida, this event provides volunteers with equipment and data sheets for removal of monofilament fishing line from spoil islands and shorelines in their own boating areas. Volunteer packets also contain instructions on how to free any entangled live birds they find during the cleanup.
Monofilament line is the #1 killer of adult Brown Pelicans in Florida. The birds often get hooked when diving after bait near fisherman; cutting the line may seem to "free" the bird, but instead, frequently sentences it to a long and painful death from entanglement in tree branches. Pelicans also become fatally tangled in line that has been cast into, but not retrieved from, mangrove rookeries where the birds roost.
Last year, 69 volunteers cleaned up 43 sites in Tampa Bay and Boca Ciega Bay. They collected 45 pounds of used monofilament and tackle, which stretched out flat on the ground, equaled 2,256 yards of line. The volunteers found 43 dead birds that had died directly as a result of entanglement. They were able to rescue two live entangled birds and take them to wildlife rehabilitation specialists.
"The monofilament cleanup is a great event because volunteers get to clean up the areas they themselves use and love," Tampa Bay Watch Environmental Scientist Kendall Sanderson explains. "They tell us where their boat is and we direct them to an island in that area. They can go anytime that day with the materials we provide and collect the fishing line. This event has a huge impact on the number of birds saved from monofilament entanglement." After data collection, the line is sent to Berkley Pure Fishing, a manufacturer who recycles the line into fresh water fish habitats.
There is still time to register for the Monofilament Line Cleanup. Volunteers are asked to contact Kendall Sanderson at 727-867-8166 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an area assignment and collection packets for the event.
Tampa Bay Watch is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) stewardship program dedicated exclusively to the charitable and scientific purpose of protecting and restoring the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary. Tampa Bay Watch involves more than 10,000 youth and adult volunteers in hands-on habitat restoration projects each year. For more information of upcoming events, becoming a volunteer or member, visit www.tampabaywatch.org, or call 727-867-8166.
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