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Raleigh to Virginia Beach

August 12, 2011

By Peggy Sloan

All 16 cohorts arrived at Prairie Ridge Ecostation on time and ready to hit the road – with obvious enthusiasm. I was immediately impressed. Kudos to Heather, who baked cookies for the trip, and to Courtney who packed craft materials. Never underestimate the value of traveling with environmental educators; you’re not likely to be bored or hungry! Within an hour of leaving Raleigh the bus blew a tire. Our driver, Martha, expertly maneuvered the bus off of busy Highway 64.   Thanks to efficient Museum staff support and a friendly patrol officer we were back on the road before too long. Despite the unexpected delay, we arrived at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head in time for lunch. Pier staff treated us to the best view on the beach with lunch on the upper level. During lunch we saw our first marine mammals: Bottlenose Dolphins swimming a few hundred yards off the pier. Fed, inspired, and ready for more, we set off for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.

Susan Barco, Virginia Aquarium’s Research Coordinator, provided an overview of the natural history, conservation status, and threats to Virginia’s marine mammals. Susan’s research on Spectra, a brand of fishing line, left an impact on us and posed a challenge for the group to provide outreach to the recreational fishing community. Spectra is a high-performance fishing twine gaining popularity among fishers. Unfortunately all of the qualities that make this product good for fishing make it equally bad news for marine mammals. Spectra cannot be broken, does not break down in sunlight and is comprised of “braids” rather than a single strand. This braided design, along with the material’s strength, act as a “micro-saw” cutting into anything entangled in the twine. In addition, Spectra is not recyclable. Recently Susan and her team had to euthanize a young dolphin which had become entangled in Spectra. The dolphin’s dorsal fin was severed and its tail fluke was nearly severed.

As we all know, word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Tell your fishing friends and family to avoid Spectra, and learn how you might be able to influence the development and distribution of similar products.

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