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An amateurish necropsy of redfish …

Perhaps you’ve read between the lines from prior posts that I see a great connection between what is carelessly discarded inland and how that harmful flotsam can, ostensibly, impact what lives in our oceans.

I'm not a very good fisherman. But the Intracoastal is an extension of my path - I retrieve junk that shouldn't be floating in these waters just down from Charleston.

I’m not a very good fisherman. But I love the Intracoastal waterway enough that it is an extension of my path – I retrieve junk that shouldn’t be floating in these waters just down from Charleston.

Behind that premise is my somewhat-selfish viewpoint. I am a novice fisherman – more of a fisher than a catcher – in the Intracoastal waterways of North and South Carolina. My prey is the wily redfish or speckled trout (or any other unwary fish that takes my bait).

A few weeks ago I posted that an astounding 266,000 tons of plastic is awash in the ocean, and that 44% of deceased sea birds and turtles have plastic in their bodies. I don’t know the percentage in fish, other than to estimate that it is a lot. My posts from Dec. 12, 2014 and Jan. 18 of this year show my distress over this man-made disaster. The web contains much detail about the grisly volume of oceanic plastic and the ill-consequences on marine life.

Waterliberty.com reports “A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that at least 88 percent of the Earth’s ocean surface is polluted with plastic debris.” Since fish are opportunistic eaters (the sport fishing industry makes a living on the notion that fish fall for plastic lures), the guessing here is that plastic is part of the aquatic food chain.

Do redfish - like this keeper-size beauty caught and released - eat what we blindly toss aside? I'm about to find out.

Do redfish – like this keeper-size beauty caught and released – eat what we blindly toss aside? I’m about to find out.

Virtually all the fish I’ve caught – save a few – are released back into the briny. But the next time I opt to eat what I catch, I’ll perform an admittedly amateurish necropsy of the innards of a redfish or trout or whatever else ends up on the business end of my braided line and de-barbed circle hook. I’ll find out for myself what and how much, if any, plastic or polystyrene my catch has ingested.

I’m a sturdy 3 hour-plus drive from the kayak put in point near Charleston. By contrast, the 200 or more miles to the sea for whatever floats in McMullen Creek along my path is long way for debris to travel through varied waterways. But eventually, some of it will make it to saltwater. This supplies an even greater sense of urgency to my daily walks to pick up after others and leave no litter behind.

My goal is to protect what swims and lives in the brackish environment I’ve come to love. I’ll do what I can to protect my fish even if it means a few will be kept and consumed in the quest to find evidence of man’s harmful ways.

About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I was a writer by trade so one would think letters would come easily for me. It is so now, but wasn't always that way. Indeed, the first letter was written the Monday after Ellen started her freshman year in college. For years I've wondered - with no good answers - why I swiveled my office chair toward my computer screen to fire up a word processing document for that first letter. I just don't know. I just did. Perhaps it was the angst of separation or wanting to say things that had gone unsaid at that moment when we parted ways in front of her college dormitory. What was a one-off became habitual. When her brother Reid enrolled in the same college, his name was added to the salutation line. They were kids then and are adults now. No matter. The letter writing habit remains so today. I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I'm well away from where they live and don't see them nearly as often as I'd like. That's why letters, at least to me, fill the void of distance. The pages give me something to say and the space to say it. There is no assurance they read the letters; indeed, I have never asked if they do so. With the pace of their busy lives who could blame them for letting a letter sit unopened? Over time, it has dawned on me that the letters are both communicative - and cathartic. By nature, letters are about the writer; the writer can only write about their situation. Perhaps that is as it should be. It's all about the here and now from one person's perspective.

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