As a wildlife photographer, I often come across heartbreaking scenes of animals tangled in fishing line left behind by anglers. The image I’m sharing today is one such example – a Great Blue Heron standing in water next to fishing line with a bobber attached. No one was fishing in the area, so this bobber had clearly been left behind after getting snagged on something below the water and broken off.

Great Blue Heron Standing Next to A Fishing Bobber

Great Blue Heron Standing Next to A Fishing Bobber

Seeing this fishing line so close to the heron made me cringe. It wouldn’t take much for this large bird to get its foot or wing tangled in the line. I’ve seen the damage fishing gear can do to wildlife firsthand. A few years back, I photographed a Great Blue Heron over the course of several months with a fishing lure painfully stuck in its foot (Heron With Fishing Lure Stuck in Foot and Heron Eating Well With An Injury). I believe it survived, but it was a heartbreaking sight.

While I understand that accidental line breaks happen occasionally in fishing, and retrieving the line isn’t always possible, there are things we can all do to help. First, be diligent about removing any excess fishing line from the area when you finish for the day. Second, safely dispose of old line, lures, and tackle to prevent it from ending up in the environment. And if you see discarded line near water, please take a moment to remove it – you might just save an animal’s life.

As a photographer, I’m in a unique position to document the harm fishing debris can cause wildlife. I hope images like the one in this post will remind anglers to be mindful, and encourage everyone to help protect animals by cleaning up any fishing line they come across. With a few simple actions, we can make a big difference.

Image Information:

  • Date: 11/13/2023
  • Time: 9:34 AM
  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma
  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 800
  • ISO: 3200
  • Aperture: 11
  • Shutter: 1/800
  • Exp. Comp.: -0.7
  • Program: Manual