For many years now, our first gesture upon arriving in the Okefenokee Swamp is to say ‘hello’ to “Sophie”, the resident alligator that inhabits the boat bay at the Stephen C Foster campground. But in 2021, our joy at seeing her quickly turned to sadness, and a bit of outrage. Sophie had suffered a horrible injury.
No doubt, a boater failed to pull in their gear before entering the small bay. A large hook, with a length of line still attached, had penetrated Sophie’s eye and caused considerable damage.
I have nothing against fishing, but poor practices and lazily discarded tackle can cause serious problems for wildlife. Waterfowl are often entangled in lines causing lacerations, feather damage and death. Turtles often swallow hooks or get them caught in their beaks. Hooks left in released fish can be ingested by other wildlife causing internal bleeding.
To be sure that other alligators don’t suffer like “Sophie”, be sure to clean up all hooks, lures and line. For more information and tips, see https://www.wildlifecenter.org/fishing-tackle-threats-wildlife
iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/71332185