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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. 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'm the one behind two totally unrelated blogs; one on 15 years of writing a weekly letter to my kids (plus other recipients), the other on my localized environmental responsibility. I'm a writer by trade and both endeavors are accepted practice for me. As for the letters, my adult children Ellen and Reid may have seen letters as corny at one point, but it's accepted practice for them, too, to find something in their mailbox other than bills and junk mail. Email and texting don't do a lot for me for a lot of different reasons. Snail mail has its place in the communicative world so as long as they keep selling stamps, I'm buying. As for 'Pick Up Your Path' and the environment, I advocate what citizens can do themselves to take a direct hand in their neighborhood environment. But Pick Up Your Path is also a general environmental blog. It may be largely about litter and trash, but both of those are just one element of the total environmental picture.

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