Biologists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) wear many hats, and sometimes performing maritime rescues come with the job. According to the department, a group of biologists with the Grand Isle Fisheries Research Lab ended their sample-taking expedition in the Southwest Pass with the rescue of five offshore fishermen. The anglers were fishing near an oil platform, a common practice as oil rigs can host a variety of species prized by sport fishermen. Although unintended, these man-made structures also double as artificial reefs and can draw in grouper, amberjack, kingfisher, and snapper. However, that does not mean that circling an oil platform comes without its own dangers.

The anglers were aboard the 64-foot Viking sport fishing vessel Extra Sauce when the boat accidentally collided with the oil rig, causing it to take on water and sink. The LDWF ship Blazing Seven was on a routine sample-taking mission when they spotted the anglers afloat on a life raft. The fishermen were quickly taken aboard and transported back home.

“Every day I am proud of the work our biologists do at the Grand Isle Fisheries Lab, but I am even more proud of them and their efforts to help this crew whose lives were in immediate danger,” said LDWF Fisheries Lab Director Myron Fischer. “The team we have assembled in Grand Isle are among the finest biologists I have worked with and they never hesitate to go above and beyond the call of duty.”

None of the anglers were seriously injured in the accident.

When done safely, fishing near an oil platform can be highly successful and in fact, many charter operations prefer oil rigs as their go-to spots. There are more than 3,700 oil rigs off the Louisiana coast.

Image courtesy Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

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