1. Headline
  1. Headline
msnbc.com
updated 9/27/2011 12:16:50 PM ET 2011-09-27T16:16:50

Game wardens have discovered as many as 3,000 dead adult and juvenile sharks tangled in a long stretch of illegal fishing netting off the Texas coast, the state's Parks and Wildlife Department said.

  1. Stories from
    1. Hilary Duff: My Split from Mike Comrie Has Been 'Very Difficult'
    2. This Ice Cream Changes Color When You Lick It
    3. Chris Pratt Improvised a Parks and Rec Scene by Going Naked - and Scaring Amy Poehler
    4. John Legend: How My Teachers Helped Me Cope with My Parents' Divorce
    5. What We're Reading This Weekend: Tales of Young Love and Loss

Department spokesman Steve Lightfoot said the wardens found the net off Texas' southern South Padre Island near the border with Mexico.

"About 3 miles of gill net was removed just past the third sandbar near the mouth of the Rio Grande," the department said in a statement. "The nets were running north to south, catching anything that attempted to get into shallow water."

No arrests have been made, Lightfoot said, according to The Associated Press.

"This is by far the most sharks I have ever gotten in one load," Texas Parks and Wildlife Sgt. James Dunks told local KGBT-TV after making the discovery on Sept. 7.

"We have here probably two to three miles of gill net that was placed in our waters about four miles north of the Mexico border right off the beach," Dunks said. "Unbelievable amount of sharks, anywhere between two and three thousand black tips, bonnet heads and sharp nose shark."

Authorities suspect Mexican fishermen set the illegal nets.

According to KGBT-TV, overfishing has destroyed the populations of fish on the Mexican side of the border, and Mexican fishermen regularly sneak into the U.S. to lay illegal nets.

"They get over here in a matter of two minutes and be back in Mexico in a matter of two minutes ... The guys we have caught in the past have flat told us that there are no more fish over there and that is why they are coming over here," Dunks said.

"It’s tragic to see U.S. efforts to rebuild shark populations being undermined by Mexican fishermen fishing illegally in U.S. waters," Elizabeth Griffin Wilson, a member of a National Marine Fisheries Service advisory panel, told msnbc.com.

"Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident," added Griffin Wilson, who is also a shark expert for the conservation group Oceana. "The U.S. Coast Guard has documented several cases of Mexican fishermen illegally catching sharks in U.S. waters this year."

Those incidents, as reported to the advisory panel last week, included four on South Padre Island last January and February in which 71 sharks were illegally killed.

While not all shark species are threatened, illegal fishing of even abundant species can cause pressure on local populations.

"Sharks are slow growing species that have very few young, thus making it difficult to have sustainable fisheries," Griffin Wilson said.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Video: Sharks racing toward extinction?

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Courtesy of Steve Mason

    Parents plead forgiveness for late daughter's $200K student-loan debt

    7/31/2014 7:10:12 PM +00:00 2014-07-31T19:10:12
  1. Special hospital unit in Georgia prepares for Ebola patient

    Emory University Hospital in Atlanta said it is preparing an isolation unit to receive a patient with Ebola disease "within the next several days."

    7/31/2014 9:52:34 PM +00:00 2014-07-31T21:52:34
  1. Kerry and UN announce 72-hour cease-fire in Gaza

    There was no immediate comment from Hamas or Israeli forces, but the United Nations representative in Jerusalem received promises that all parties have agreed to the cease-fire, according to a joint statement from the U.N. and State Department.

    7/31/2014 9:55:08 PM +00:00 2014-07-31T21:55:08
  1. Courtesy of Tyler Doss

    Watch therapy dog help boy move arm again after brain surgeries

    8/1/2014 12:50:14 AM +00:00 2014-08-01T00:50:14