Coast Guard rescues dolphin from illegal net near South Padre Island

A Coast Guard Station South Padre Island boat crew cuts a dolphin free from illegal fishing nets near South Padre Island, Texas, May 4, 2022. After receiving a call from a boater about the entangled dolphin a Station South Padre Island 24-foot Special Purpose Craft-Shallow Water boat crew launched to respond. The crew freed the dolphin and removed the illegal fishing gear from the water. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Lacie Kraatz)

A Coast Guard Station South Padre Island boat crew cuts a dolphin free from illegal fishing nets near South Padre Island, Texas, May 4, 2022.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Lacie Kraatz)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coast Guard rescued a dolphin caught in an illegal fishing net near South Padre Island, Texas, Wednesday.

Coast Guard Station South Padre Island crews received a call at 10:36 a.m. from the charter boat Fish Tales stating there was a dolphin trapped in a net near Laguna Madre. A Station South Padre Island 24-foot Special Purpose Craft-Shallow Water boat crew launched to respond.

Once on scene, the crew cut the dolphin free from the net and released it back into its habitat. The illegal gillnet fishing gear had entangled 10 bonnethead sharks, one blacktip shark, 20 catfish, one redfish and a bottlenose dolphin.

“This incident clearly exemplifies the negative impacts of illegal fishing gear used in U.S. waters,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Drew Ferguson, a Station South Padre Island boarding officer. “Not only does it impact marine life, but the entire ecosystem as a whole. Thankfully, we were able to free the dolphin and remove the gillnet before it trapped and killed any additional marine life.”

A gillnet is a form of fishing gear consisting of a wall of netting with mesh designed to trap fish’s heads and is illegal to use in Texas waters. Gillnet has been a major source of mortality for many marine animals due to their susceptibility to becoming entangled in the net.

If you witness suspicious activity or illegal fishing in state waters (out to 9 miles offshore), please contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s “Operation Game Thief” at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). For all suspicious activity or illegal fishing occurring in federal waters (out to 200 miles offshore), please contact the U.S. Coast Guard at 361-939-0450.

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