Tarpon Rodeo Keeps Coast Guard Busy

The International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo in Grand Isle, La. is one of the largest events of the year for the city of Grand Isle and the Coast Guardsmen tasked with protecting the surrounding waters. The city expects approximately 12,000 visitors for the rodeo each year. With the influx of visitors which includes beach-goers, fishermen and recreational boaters, Coast Guard Station Grand Isle stays busy with search and rescue missions as well as assisting the community with many of the events that take place during the rodeo.

The Coast Guard Cutter Pelican, homeported in Abbeville, La., hosted special guests, including the president of the rodeo and tournament officials, on a ride along for a search and rescue demonstration featuring an HH-65C Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans and 41-foot utility boat from Coast Guard Station Grand Isle.

Crewmembers of Station Grand Isle also participated in setting up for the event at the community center for the public. This year’s big event was the Battle on the Beach, a mixed martial arts competition. Five crewmembers from the station volunteered time to help setup the safety fence around the event as well prepare the concessions stand.

However, the Coast Guard’s main focus is on search and rescue and law enforcement to keep the waters around Grand Isle safe for every one to enjoy.

“We do two patrols a day at random times depending on weather and other operations” said Petty Officer 1st Class James M. Laughlin, operations petty officer at Grand Isle.

The big problems we face are boating under the influence and the people visiting that don’t know the area and become lost, said Laughlin.

During events like this is is important to stay safe, says Petty Officer Thomas Blue. Boaters should always wear life jackets while on the water, tell a family member where they will be and when they will be back , and should carry ways to call for help and signal emergency services if they get into trouble.

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