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Caught an injured animal? CALL WILD LIFE CARE CENTER in Forth Lauderdale AT 954-524-4302. THEY ARE EQUIPPED TO TRAVEL AND PERFORM THE RESCUE AND DEAL WITH MANY COMPLICATIONS YOU CANNOT.
DRAMATIC PELICAN RESCUE: FULL DETAILS: Around 5 pm, an immature Brown Pelican became hooked and trapped in fishing lines that were anchored underwater to a rock. With just enough slack in the line to attempt take off, the Pelican became more docile with repeated attempts to free itself.
Several fishermen, notably Scott Geschwill worked for over two hours to rescue the Pelican. In between the constant efforts directed at the rescue, I went looking for anyone with a surfboard, kayak or boat. No luck. Two kayakers launching next to the pier REFUSED to help, even though they were passing by. Thereupon several phone calls to local surf shops, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and local bird rescue centers led to one dead end after another.
The Pelican was at the end of the pier (900 feet from shore) in about 15 feet of water, winds were 15 mph from the south and there was a strong northern current and man-o- war were dotted about the sea. Diving into the water was out of the question: it was only 15 feet deep and there are concrete debris from the pier’s construction all about the bottom. Swimming out was a consideration but the sunset and sea conditions canceled that idea.
Over a period of nearly two hours and after several attempts at reeling in the Pelican, it was finally caught in a net and raised to the surface by Scott Geschwill who immediately worked on freeing the Pelican from 6 hooks. NEVER KEEP A PELICAN BEAK SHUT! They cannot breath any other way! (The FWC arrived via motor boat just after the Pelican was hoisted to the pier) A fishing line was fatally wrapped around the neck and as we watched the Pelican show signs of hypoxia, Scott successfully cut through the line that was starving the Pelican from air. Thereupon, a group effort led to the successful removal of all but two hooks. Whereupon the Pelican was rushed to the Pier entrance and placed in a spacious kennel box for transport to the Wildlife Care Center located minutes away in Fort Lauderdale.
The rescue of this immature, yet to breed Brown Pelican was the direct result of the relentless efforts of Scott his wife Chandra their sons. Everyone mentioned and a handful of dedicated and skilled young fishermen whose names aren’t known at this time, took it personally to save a non-human life.
Sadly, MOST Pelicans when caught in a fishing line are CUT LOOSE WHICH IS A DEATH SENTENCE TO A PELICAN. This video has been produced and posted to increase awareness for Pelicans whose feeding grounds are bisected by fishing lines which they cannot see.
You are invited to visit Dania Pier and to keep an eye out for the Brown Pelicans which are the only ones who dive into the ocean to feed. It was not so long ago that their species was endangered due to the pesticide DDT. Though the poison invented by humans was banned and the Brown Pelicans have since been thriving, we all must remember to be vigilant and live in harmony with all life, for the sake of us all…
UPDATE: 2/6/11: The rescued Pelican was noted to be 2-3 years of age and will be released back into the wild in 2-3 weeks.
UPDATE: 2/9/11: Release date is tentative. The pelican is missing a small patch of feathers as the result of the injury and will be released once that issue is resolved. Otherwise doing well 🙂
UPDATE: Pelican was released from John Lloyd Park, channel 7 covered it again and for the second time despite pleas from the wild life care center, changed the story to PROMOTE hooking birds to save them. Why? Ask Vanessa Ruiz at channel 7 who made a young boy the hero of the story in light of the facts. I regret not sending the footage to a more reputable news organization that is not based on tabloid journalism.
Special thank you to Cheryl Simpson who was out fishing with her family especially Shaun Simpson who was instrumental in the most vital phases of the rescue. Cheryl and her daughter ran constantly back and forth along the pier to ferry information and help locate others on the beach to help in the rescue efforts.