SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. – Sometimes fishermen get hooked in a painful way.
Gary Nye, a physician’s assistant in the emergency room at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for more than 20 years, has treated numerous anglers who’ve come in with the treble hooks from fishing lures stuck on their thumbs, arms or legs, ears, noses, eyelids, lips, the side of their necks, the back of their heads – nearly every body part.
He said he’s taken lures off several patients’ penises and scrotums, adding those incidents occurred when the individuals were fishing with small bathing suits, or skimpy, loose-hanging shorts with nothing on underneath. “Usually alcohol has something to do with it,” he added.
As a testimony to Nye’s services and other hospital staff to Adirondack area anglers, the hospital in 1990 began asking individuals to contribute the lures staff removed for posting on a bulletin board where they could be displayed for all to see.
Today, there are more than 100 lures displayed on two, side-by-side bulletin boards in the main lobby area of the hospital. One board notes lures taken from anglers from 1990 to 2000. The other, 2000 to 20??. On top of the display boards is a sign that says, “THE ONES THAT DIDN’T GET AWAY.”
The board includes a hunting arrow with a razor-sharp broadhead, but Nye and others interviewed said they could not remember the story behind it.
Betsy Fuller, a nurse in the hospital’s ER for 20 years, said among recent patients was one who removed his wet boots after fishing and then happened to step on a lure and a treble hook became embedded in one of his heels.
She remembers one individual who came in with the treble hooks from a lure stuck on both thumbs.
He was fishing at Colby Lake across the street from the hospital, reached into his shoe to get a lure and it got stuck on one of his thumbs. As he tried to take it off, he ended up getting the lure’s other set of treble hooks caught on his other thumb.
She’s not sure, but she suspects alcohol was involved in that incident as well, she said.
The lure display was the idea of Dr. Michael Pond, the hospital’s former medical director, who is a fisherman as well. The hospita, a short drive just west of Lake Placid, has the only full-service emergency room within the Adirondack Park.
Sometime in the late 1990s or 2000s, he said, “someone cut out and stole four to five antique lures out of the case. I mean, these were absolutely gorgeous and expensive lures – Pikie Minnows and (other) things. (They) were made out of wood and painted.”
As a safeguard against further thievery, the two display boards are now encased in glass and under lock and key.
Nye said he’s removed lures embedded in patients ranging in age from 2 to 90.
So how does one remove a barbed hook stuck on an angler or any other unfortunate individual?
“95 percent of the time I can get the hook out without snipping the barb or pushing the hook all the way through,” Nye said.
He said he usually begins by put tape over the lure’s other hooks to prevent further problems. Then, an anesthetic is injected into the wound.
The anesthetic serves two purposes. It deadens the pain and it also results in fluid around the wound and the barb. He said he then grasps the hook with a suture holding device.
“And then with a little twist and flip of the wrist, the hook comes right out,” he said.
Nye said not all the lures could readily be removed by emergency room staff.
There were a few cases where a hook went into the “globe of an individual’s eye.” In those cases, he said, the patient was immediately referred to an eye surgeon.
Nye estimated about 85 percent of the patients with fish hook problems are “out of towners.”
One patient, Herb Beadle, of Sodus, N.Y. sent the ER staff a thank you note, enclosing the lure (an orange Flatfish) for display on the board. His note reads:
“Just wanted to say thanks again for the treatment you folks provided last Saturday while removing the fishing hook from my thumb. I was very pleased with the friendly, professional and timely care you all provided.
“I wish we could get care like that here in the Rochester area.”
Every patient is asked if they want to donate their lure afterward, but not all do.
Canada leads the way in banning all shark fins
Sharks are among the oldest species on Earth, having survived for hundreds of millions of years. Yet now, thanks in part to certain culinary habits, they may find themselves going extinct after all this time.
Tens of millions of sharks, large and small, are slaughtered each year for their fins. The fins are used as ingredients in shark fin soup, which is considered to be a delicacy in Chinese and other Asian cultures. In a practice called shark finning, live sharks are caught so their fins can be sliced off, whereupon thus mutilated fish are thrown overboard in order to die a slow and painful death in the sea.
Not only is this practice cruel but it’s also harmful and not just to the sharks themselves but to entire marine ecosystems. Sharks often serve vital roles in these ecosystems as top predators. They keep fish stocks healthy by preying on weak, old and diseased specimens.
Yet each year more than 70 million sharks are killed by people for their fins; some experts have estimated the number to be as high as 100 million sharks per year. Sharks belong to around 440 species, but the relentless slaughter has caused a quarter of shark species to be threatened or outright endangered.
In China, Hong Kong and across much of Southeast Asia shark fins remain on the menu. Efforts have been made, and successfully so, to convince hotels and restaurants to stop offering it, which is widely seen as a status dish by many customers.
Encouragingly, more and more countries are seeking to enact wholesale bans on shark fins. Canada has now become the world’s first country to ban the import and export of all fins, thanks to Bill S-238,an amendment to the fisheries act which places a “ban on Shark Fin Importation and Exportation.”
Shark finning has been illegal in the North American nation since 1994, yet outside of Asia Canada has long been the largest importer of shark fins. Last year alone 160,000 kilograms of fins were imported to Canada from around the planet.
“Today is a great day for our oceans. The overhauled Fisheries Act has the potential to be one of the most transformative things that has happened for our oceans in many years,” says Josh Laughren, executive director of Oceana Canada, a marine conservationist group. “The act now lays a strong foundation to support healthy oceans for generations to come.”
Selling or even possessing shark fins has also already been outlawed south of the border in a dozen states in the U.S., including California, Hawaii, New York and the U.S. territory of Guam. Shark fins soup has likewise been banned in several European countries.
However, despite considerable progress in recent years in taking shark fins off the menu, they continue to be consumed wholesale in Hong Kong and elsewhere in China. Yet, giving into pressure from environmentalists, several prominent restaurants in Hong Kong have promised to stop offering the dish by next year.