'Ding' Darling's Monica Scroggin, left, and DDWS President Doris Hardy embark on a Clear Your Gear mission at the refuge on Oct. 19. SC photo by Shannen Hayes
'Ding' Darling's Monica Scroggin, left, and DDWS President Doris Hardy embark on a Clear Your Gear mission at the refuge on Oct. 19. SC photo by Shannen Hayes

The five-gallon bucket. It holds five gallons, a standard unit of measurement. So what does a five-gallon bucket of monofilament fishing line amount to?

The answer is disturbing. Stretched out, a five-gallon bucket of monofilament stretches about a mile-and-a-quarter, according to statistics gathered by the local effort Clear Your Gear.

There's more. The typical monofilament in use takes 600 years to biodegrade, which basically means it isn't biodegradable. Hanging around with all this fishing line are hooks, lead weights, lures and bobbers.

All of those things get left behind, lost, tangled up and can't be recovered, or whatever. Then birds and other wildlife get tangled up in it or swallow something. It's a big problem,” said Doris Hardy, president of the 'Ding' Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge.

DDWS has teamed with the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Sanibel Sea School, the 'Ding' Darling NWR, the City of Sanibel and 'Ding' Darling Monofilament Busters to tackle the problem of abandoned tackle. Hardy formed Monofilament Busters for this very purpose and during 'Ding' Darling Days last week she was on hand to help celebrate the second anniversary of Clear Your Gear.

I go out with teams all year round. We have volunteers who go out and look, and they know what they are looking for and where to go,” said Hardy at Boat Launch 2 in the refuge on Wednesday, Oct. 19. She and others were there for a presentation about what gear is needed to be part of Clear Your Gear.

Sometimes we don't have enough kayaks, which is a good problem because that means we have enough volunteers,” Hardy said.

But it takes more than a kayak. Hardy displayed scissors, a telescoping hook, water bottles and plastic bags to keep things dry. And gloves.

Gloves are extremely important. Monofilament can cut your hands to shreds,” she said.

Which points out how harmful fishing line can be to wildlife.

Once tangled up, there's not much an animal or bird can do except get lucky and hope someone who knows what they are doing finds them,” Hardy said.

Local monofilament results go back to 2910-11. Each year filled a five-gallon bucket of monofilament. Last year, the inventory also included 164 lures, 138 bobbers, 320 lead weights and a staggering 474 hooks. As high as that number is, it couldn't beat 2014-15, when 579 hooks were recovered.

People need to be more careful. Monofilament gets tangled up in mangroves very easily,” Hardy said.

Her goal is an empty five-gallon bucket.


For more, go to www.clearyourgear.org or follow Monofilament Busters on Facebook