The decaying carcasses of 65 sharks were found by the Coast Guard in an abandoned, mile-long gill net, adrift in the Gulf of Mexico off the south Texas coast. The agency said Tuesday it suspects that Mexican poachers illegally fishing in U.S. waters in a lancha, or small boat, left the net behind.
"Illegal drift gill nets with very small mesh are referred to as the 'wall of death,'" said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Brand, living marine resources officer for the New Orleans-based 8th Coast Guard District. "These nets are so effective at catching and killing fish that their use is illegal in both federal and state waters in the Gulf of Mexico and highly regulated by fishing management."
A Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon airplane spotted the net Monday about 2 p.m. while on a routine patrol about 20 miles off South Padre Island and 37 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico maritime border, the agency said. The Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi then diverted its 87-foot coastal patrol cutter Amberjack to retrieve the net. The crew found the 65 "badly decomposed" sharks, the agency said.