Eliminating Entanglement at the Juno Beach Pier

The volume of plastic pollution found in the ocean is increasing at an alarming rate and poses a severe threat to marine life worldwide. An estimated 8 million metric tons of marine debris are added into our oceans every year. Among the plastic contamination, fishing line is one of the most dangerous items to sea turtles and other marine life. At Loggerhead Marinelife Center, the Rehabilitation Department commonly treats sea turtles with entanglement injuries, including those caused by fishing line.

The Juno Beach Pier.

The structure of the Juno Beach Pier attracts many different types of marine life, which is one of the reasons why piers are popular fishing spots. However, anglers commonly snag their lines on various items under the pier and are forced to cut the lines, resulting in mass accumulations of monofilament line.

Sea turtles, as well as manatees, fish, and other types of marine life are attracted to pier structures where they can hunt for attached sponges, crabs, and other food. When animals get twisted in fishing line and hooks, it can inhibit their ability to move, eat properly and even strangle them. Marine life that manages to break free can still have fishing line tightly wrapped around their flippers, which may result in death if they’re not rescued.

Stone crab entangled by fishing line.

To combat this problem, Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s Conservation Department regularly conducts underwater cleanups at the Juno Beach Pier. These underwater cleanups reduce the buildup of fishing line under the pier and the threat it poses to sea turtles and other marine life.

During underwater cleanups, a team of SCUBA divers work beneath the pier to cut away fishing line and remove other hazardous debris. LMC currently completes quarterly underwater cleanups at the Juno Beach Pier in partnership with Jupiter Dive Center and has removed more than 1,800 pounds of debris since 2011 – a large majority being fishing line.

Each recovered mile of fishing line reduces the chance of entangling marine life and prevents the likelihood of amputating flippers, strangulation, drowning or death.

Brian Robertson (left) and Katie O’Hara (right) help reduce the amount of marine debris found underneath the Juno Beach Pier.

On Thursday, March 26, Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s Conservation Department held an underwater cleanup at the Juno Beach Pier. During the cleanup, a team of two divers removed more than 21 lbs of debris, mostly consisting of fishing line.

The marine debris collected from the underwater cleanup at the Juno Beach Pier.