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We can all help keep local waters, areas clean

July 5, 2019
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

With the summer rains getting charged up, what will this year bring us? Listening to the radio today and hearing about 5-year plans and long-term goals, one wonders how many decades will pass before the water flows naturally south through the Everglades as was intended by nature before politicians, water "managers" and developers had their way in changing the natural flow of water in Florida.

What we don't hear anything about are the diseases brought on by living close to toxic algae. All citizens should demand this information. Covered up as to not cause panic or financial real estate ruin? Is it safe to live and breathe close to these algae toxins? Actually, the truthful answer is, no. Studies in other states show a direct correlation between toxic algae exposure and deadly human diseases.

Fishing local, rain-swelled, small dams along the highways that spill fresh water into the salt side can be a real treat for the on-foot angler. Here anyone can pull up after a big rain and have a chance at a nice snook or even a canal tarpon.

There are many places throughout the North Cape I visit on a regular basis and over the years have caught some amazing fish while fishing on foot. Four-foot-long alligator gar, largemouth bass, tarpon, snook and many varieties of invasive Cichlid species all sharing the same small streams and canals.

I've always made it a habit to carry a trash bag to pick up debris left behind by a truly repulsive invasive species, the two legged pig angler, and have no trouble bringing home a large pile of trash on every outing.

This past week I pulled up to find a spot I had cleaned less than a week ago had been trashed. On the ground was a wad of monofilament and a new two-piece lure box opened, the lure removed and the box simply thrown to the ground, along with an empty sun screen container, soda cans and even a large pillow.

I started picking up the whole time trying not to listen to the truth in my head saying, why bother? You're swimming against the tide, actually a rip current.

At the captains school in the Cape there's a chart on the wall with information definitely worth repeating.

According to the chart, an aluminum can takes 200 years to "go away." A plastic six-pack retainer 450 years, a Styrofoam cup 500 years, a plastic milk jug 500 years and finally, mono fishing line, at an estimated 600 years! Even a floating dolphin magnet like a sheet of plywood takes up to 3 years to dissolve.

But does plastic actually go away? No. Baked by the sun, plastic eventually falls apart into smaller and smaller pieces, eaten by fish, birds, turtles and finally breaking down into its chemical components and entering the food chain at the molecular level and into your grouper sandwich.

The United Nations Environment Program estimated back in 2006 that every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 bits of floating plastic bits! That was 06. Imagine now.

The average American uses 130 plastic bags a year, each one taking over 400 years or more to decompose. In addition, 2.5-3 million plastic bottles are used every hour in the U.S.

While we blame others and try to do the right thing, we walk into stores and buy mountains of weed killer while the morning lawn trucks spray their poison before the afternoon rains wash it all into the Gulf.

This Fourth of July holiday, celebrate living in the greatest country on Earth and be very thankful. Take some time to set examples for youth. Pick it up!

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or



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