Sometime over the last weekend of August, an anonymous call was left on the STRP sea turtle hotline in the Gulf Office in Houston. A man’s voice said that we “better lighten up on the endangered thing” and mumbled on about too many rules and regulations about shrimping and fishing. He sounded old, weary and maybe tired of struggling to make a living. Perhaps he hadn’t heeded warnings about overfishing and reduction of wasteful bycatch in the Gulf of Mexico.
Obviously, the call was prompted by newspaper articles about two dead Kemp’s ridleys that were found in a shrimp trawl near Galveston Island on August 1. Federal officials removed the turtles leaving the trawl to sink into the murky waters. NOAA law enforcement wanted the see that trawl and STRP supporters came up with $500 reward money to find who was responsible for killing the turtles. No one came forward so the reward went to divers who labored for hours locating it and getting it to the surface. The trawl itself points to those who may have cut it from the shrimp boat leaving two endangered sea turtles to struggle for freedom in vain and then die trapped at the bottom of the channel. The trawl may lead to the ones who are responsible and should face the consequences.
To the anonymous caller, the answer is, “No, we won’t ever ‘lighten up on the endangered thing.'”