Featured Image Credit: Wild Wonders of Europe / Nils Aukan
By Laura O’Brien
Debris such as fishing line and nets pose a serious and often fatal risk to our oceanic friends. Discarded materials can entrap marine life and prevent them from being able to move; or in the case of mammals, rise to the surface to breathe.
When an Orca off of the coast of Sulawesi found itself trapped in a heavy net, its future looked bleak. As the mammal struggled against the immense weight of the net, some extremely brave and caring Indonesian fishermen noticed its distress. They dived into the water – WITH THE ORCA – and helped untangle the poor creature from the net! Yikes.
Despite their friendly looks, Orcas are very formidable wild animals.
Therefore, the possible danger that the courageous fishermen put themselves in has sparked up some controversy. Many people feel that steps must be taken to prevent humans from putting their lives at risk when rescuing marine life. Some countries impose steep fines for those who interact with marine life – even in life or death situations. These regulations represent an extreme effort to protect both human and animal lives, by discouraging ANY kind of contact between humans and animals.
Luckily for marine mammals around the world, some organizations are taking steps to empower people to safely and effectively rescue entangled sea creatures. According to Earth Touch News Network, an organization called Whale Stranding Indonesia suggested that an entanglement workshop could benefit people in the area where the fishermen rescued the Orca. The purpose of entanglement workshops is to teach people safety protocol for freeing trapped marine animals. Scientists, conservationists, and many agencies have collaborated in order to provide information on the safest way to disentangle marine life; for the benefit of both the entrapped animals, and the heroes who are freeing them.
Prevention is another critical measure in reducing the threat of entanglement for marine species. The 2014 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Marine Debris Program Report on Entanglement *whew, long title* lists many suggestions for how to reduce entanglement. These ideas range from programs which could encourage fishermen to turn in debris they encounter in exchange for incentives, to utilizing biodegradable fishing nets. Conservation research, innovation, and heroic actions like those of the brave Indonesian fishermen offer a brighter future to our marine friends!
This Orca is off to greener pastures!… Or, well, bluer waters.