With the help of 85 volunteers (including 23 Houston Zoo staff) we removed 268 abandoned traps and smashed them to send the material to be recycled. If these traps are left in the environment, they are a great danger for wildlife, as they can accidentally capture animals (like otters) that weren’t meant to be caught. By pulling them up we ensure a safer environment for animals like the otters we often see playing around the area. The volunteer team also collected a tremendous amount of waste from around the shore and park. We had over 8 bags of recyclable material by the end of the day and had removed items such as a propane tank, tires and a lot of old fishing line! We filled 2 garbage bags of discarded fishing line to recycle. Volunteers worked hard to untangle and sort the line for recycling.
Removing fishing line from the water and shore is critical to protecting wildlife. The Houston Zoo provided medical treatment for 127 injured or stranded sea turtles last year and some of the turtles we see have injuries from fishing line left on the bay’s and beaches. If the discarded line is left in the environment unsuspecting wildlife can get wrapped in it just like any other form of trap. We had a intern work with us for almost a year from Save the Elephants in Kenya last year. He joined our sea lion keepers in cleaning up abandoned fishing line from Galveston beaches and he likened the activity to the anti-poaching efforts they do in Africa. At Save the Elephants they patrol the park searching for wire set out to trap animals and he felt what they were doing on the beach was the same thing. He felt it was a very heroic effort to protect our local wildlife and we agree.
The Houston Zoo (among many other organizations such as Texas A&M Sea Grant and Turtle Island Restoration Project) installed special bins that are designed to contain the unused fishing line in an effective and safe way along jetties in Galveston, in an effort to reduce the wildlife entanglement cases we saw. This year, we brought one of these bins to the crab trap cleanup anticipating that we may be able to collect a significant amount of line from the shores of the park. They were so popular that the community inquired about installing some in the park in the future. They saw it as a great tool they could utilize to protect wildlife year round!
The crab trap cleanup not only helps to ensure the bay is safe for wildlife, but it also plays a long-term role in ensuring blue crab populations are healthy. The more abandoned traps we pull out of the bay, the healthier the blue crab and wildlife population will be in the future-allowing all Texans a chance at enjoying the seafood we love while protecting our natural resources. In the end, this beautiful Texas bay is cleaner and safer because of our collaborative wildlife protecting efforts. Together, we will protect our Texas wildlife!
Come to the Zoo and help us save animals in the wild! A portion of you admission goes directly to wildlife saving efforts and you can learn more about what you can do to protect the animals you see at the Zoo in the wild. Visit the Take Action page link to see how everyday actions can strengthen efforts to save wildlife.