NARRATOR: For nearly 200 years the US Coast Guard has been tasked with preserving our country's marine resources. That means tending to the oceans by protecting it from the castoffs of our human lives.
The Guardians of our shores and Stewards of the Ocean ... with an ever-expanding role. The Coast Guard's work with protected species began in the late 1700's, when the agency ensured at-sea enforcement of laws governing the whaling and sealing industry. Over time, however, hunting, fishing, and whaling took their toll on the animal populations.
To address this legacy, the Coast Guard took on new roles and adopted two strategic plans Ocean Steward and Ocean Guardian. Together these plans are the Coast Guard's framework for protecting vulnerable marine species and their habitats.
You've probably seen pictures like these cold stunned turtles or lost manatees being loaded onto Coast Guard planes for a quick trip home to their natural habitats.
During marine entanglements, the Coast Guard serves as the Nation's first responder, locating animals in jeopardy and, at times, assisting marine biologists at scenes like this where whales are caught up in fishing lines. Entanglement is a major issue for whales and many other types of marine life, like sea turtles.
Discarded fishing gear, including huge commercial nets, can end up being a deadly trap for marine life. Marine debris and trash not only degrades our beaches, but also affect Marine Protected Areas and coral reefs beneath the waves.
In the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary, Coast Guard's Operation Kohola Guardian protects endangered humpback whales in a variety of ways. Coast Guard crews conduct weekly sanctuary patrols to ensure both boaters and marine life stay safe, not only watching out for the whales but alerting boaters to their presence, as well.
In the blue whales around Hawaii, the warm waters of coastal Florida or the cold green seas of New England or wherever human activity threatens marine ecosystems or protected species the Coast Guard is always ready to serve as America's Ocean Guardian.