The dangers of abandoned fishing nets can't be understated. They're called ghost nets, and they continue to kill animals for years as they drift in the water. We often hear about marine debris entaglements when it comes to marine mammals like seals, sea turtles and whales. In fact, the search is still on for a blue whale currently tangled in fishing nets, which was spotted off the coast of California and then again off the coast of Mexico. But it is less common to hear about this particular marine mammal species getting tangled.
Yesterday, the U.S. Interior Instagram account posted this emotional photo of a polar bear next to the pile of fishing net from which it had just been freed.
"How do you rescue a 1,000 pound #polarbear trapped in a fishing net? You untangle it. Well, actually, it’s pretty complicated, especially when it’s located in a remote Arctic location," says the caption.
"Late yesterday @usgs and @usfws with help from the local community of Kaktovik, successfully freed a large male polar bear that was entangled in a fishing net on a small barrier island in the Beaufort Sea off #Alaska. The biologist’s first darted the bear from a helicopter and then local residents, using boats, kept the bear from drowning while the tranquilizers took effect. Once sedated the biologists worked to quickly untangle the bear from the net and after determining it appeared uninjured from its ordeal, released it back into the wild. A great effort by all to keep this magnificent animal in the wild."
With more than 21,000 likes, the comments on the photo are a chorus of thank-yous and congratulations to the group of people who took part in rescuing this polar bear. We send our gratitude to them for their hard work as well.
Polar bears have become the poster child species for climate change, as they struggle to adapt to a world without sea ice. Now it seems that at least one bear is also bringing attention to the dangers of marine debris. We're so glad that this bear made it out of the situation unharmed.