Tips on preventing deaths to marine life

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VENICE - Mote Marine scientists say a bottlenose dolphin found dead this past weekend died as a result of swallowing fishing gear.

Scientists say this is a type of problem that's not uncommon. Everything from birds to turtles are continuously being brought to local rescuers.

Many of those we talked to say they are surprised to learn a dolphin died as a result of fishing tackle. However, rescuers we talked to say it's a place they visit often for other types of wildlife in need.

Michael Alger fishes the North Jetty a few times a week where dolphins are a frequent site. “They come in and they feed up in the channels."

He says most have enough common sense to fish around the marine mammals when they're in the area. "You can tell when they are starting to feed because they shove the mullet up against the rocks. Everybody just lifts their lines up and lets them do their thing."

He is saddened to hear the recent death of the dolphin found in the Venice inlet this past weekend.

Scientists believe it was a result of fishing tackle, perhaps hooked by someone fishing or eating a fish, which had been snagged and got away. "It is very sad to hear. As far as fishing equipment and stuff, it is very hard to hook a dolphin."

It’s rare for a dolphin, but not for other types of wildlife there. "It's pretty common. We deal with it pretty much every day," says Linda Schrader of the Wildlife Center of Venice

Schrader says this past year they took in more than 150 brown pelicans from the area. Nearly all were struggling from hooks and or fishing line. "Unfortunately we are seeing more and more patients every year. Our numbers are probably increasing."

She says the worst thing you can do is cut the line. "People get intimidated when they see a large bird on the end of their pole. What they should do is reel the bird in and hold the bird. Get the hook out. You have to cut the barb," says Schrader.

Line receptacles have been set up at most county maintained fishing hot spots to help decrease the risks. "When we cut the line we always put it in our pocket and put in the disposal thing. When you see line in the rocks you pick it up."

Just a little awareness and a little care, which might not solve all the problems, but it could help. "It's an effort on everybody's part."

Most of the people there are very aware of the environmental impacts of things like line and hooks.

The one challenge local rescuers say they face is the fact we have so many visitors to the area who are not always educated on how to avoid or handle snagging an animal.

This is the second dolphin death in that area this year. Beggar the dolphin had fishing gear in his second stomach as well.