don’t have to spend a lot of time on the water to see the Chesapeake’s
ospreys. Boaters, watermen, and even people on land can hear the high-pitched
whistle of an osprey surveying the scene from above. Ospreys thrive around the
Bay and are common sights on navigational buoys and markers. However, a new
threat has come to light.
The Chesapeake Bay has some of the finest fishing on the East Coast. In Maryland alone, more than 400,000 anglers ply the Bay and its tidal tributaries from late March through November. The fishing season also corresponds with the osprey’s breeding season. With approximately 3,600 breeding pairs, the Chesapeake Bay supports one of the largest nesting populations of osprey. At least 1,600 breeding pairs live in Maryland. From March to August, while anglers are fishing the Bay, these magnificent birds are building nests, laying eggs, and feeding and rearing their young.
Ospreys are very tolerant of humans and will fish and nest close to populated communities. They often line their nests with a variety of natural and manmade materials, including paper, plastic rope and fishing line. Unfortunately, some of these materials can be to be deadly. Staff biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office and U.S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Center discovered many osprey young entangled in fishing line or impaled with fishing hooks.
Adults have also been spotted entangled in line. Ospreys with legs, wings and beaks entangled in fishing line can become immobilized and can die of starvation. In addition, constricted limbs can result in amputation, resulting in a slow death. In 2003, biologists surveying osprey nests on the Patuxent River found that more than 50% of nests contained fishing line. Conservative estimates indicate that fishing line is present in 5–10% of all osprey nests on the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding rivers.
The potential for entanglement
in fishing line is high.
The angler to osprey ratio
is probably even higher than what is listed above because a Maryland Chesapeake
Bay Sport fishing license covers more than one person for registered vessels.
See also :
Osprey Natural History