Myakka Throw Aways

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Myakka Throw Aways

guest post by Nancy Dobias

Recently when my husband and I went to Myakka River State Park, I sooooo wished there were a POLICE BIRD who might  "gently" remind visitors of proper etiquette when they decide to take a day to commune with nature and share the great outdoors with the wildlife and other like-minded individuals....

When we went there Thursday, I was hoping to show my husband all the alligators sunning themselves on the banks.  Although they were there, they weren't there in the same numbers as they were a few days ago.  One alligator, however, did have a funny sense of humor.  As he lay on the shore, basking in the sunlight, I couldn't help but notice the camo hat he wore upon his head.  I'm not sure if the fish will mistake him for a bush, but stranger things have happened.... 

What I didn't expect to see on our trip to Myakka was a lot of "throw away" catfish left on the shore to die because some net fishermen were too lazy to return them to the river.  We had seen the two men casting their nets standing in the river when we started our walk and by the time we returned, the fishermen had their cooler filled and were long gone; however 30+ catfish and 1 gar were left to die in the dirt.  Larry was the first to notice the fish.  He figured they coudn't still be alive but when one made a slight move, Larry immediately went into rescue mode and as always, I saw the kind-hearted man that I had married.  One by one, two by two, he steadfastly returned the discarded fish to their home.   Multiple trips and multiple splashes later and still many more left to rescue eventually caused me to put my cameras down and help with the process as well.  Initially I had been reluctant to handle the fish for fear of dropping one, but Larry assured me that there was a safe way to handle them.   I decided to work with the little ones since they'd be easier to carry safely.  It was a shame what had happened to these fish.  They were so covered in dirt by their desperate thrashing to get back to the river, that we really had to look carefully to find all the little guys.  The bigger guys were covered in dirt as well, but their size made them easier to find.   

Once we returned all those fish to the river and were walking up out of the woods, Larry glanced back to the river and wondered whether the men had left any of the throw-away catfish in the other spot from which they had been casting their nets.  I couldn't imagine their leaving the fish there since it was so close to the river.  "Surely someone is not that lazy," I thought.  Unfortunately they were.   Larry once more returned catfish to the river.... 

I just don't understand the mentality of the person who enjoys the sport of fishing but who doesn't understand that the health of the river is contingent upon a acceptable balance being maintained within that river.  If the fishermen were net casting for tilapia, they should have returned the catfish and gar to the river.    They should not have left them to rot.  The Myakka alligators and birds are dependent upon this food supply.  Please don't waste it.