Fishing hook horror – pelican makes miraculous recovery

Alarms were raised after RSPCA South Australia Rescue Officer Nalika received a distressing call from a community member, who reported seeing a pelican with several fishing hooks embedded in its body at Tennyson Beach.

The caller described how the pelican, who is believed to be a frequent visitor to the common fishing area at Tennyson Beach, looked to be in a significant amount of discomfort at the time of the sighting.

Rescue Officer Nalika, and volunteer, Emily, swiftly attended the scene, which was surrounded by beachgoers and local fisherman.

Upon assessing the pelican’s condition from afar, Nalika confirmed the caller’s concern – the pelican appeared to be in dire condition, with multiple hooks and fishing lines attached to its body.

“I tried to entice the pelican closer with some fresh fish, which a nearby fisherman kindly gave to us,” Nalika said.

“The pelican did approach us and accept some of the food we were offering, but he didn’t come close enough for us to be able to capture him.”

After reassessing the situation, the rescue team determined that the best course of action would be to lure the pelican to a more secluded area of the beach, where he wouldn’t get distracted or frightened by onlookers.

After a few attempts, Nalika and Emily were able to successfully entice the pelican out of the water, and onto the safety of some nearby land. It wasn’t long before the pelican attempted to retreat back to the water, but Nalika was able to quickly intervene and capture him before he became out of reach.

“Quite often, rescues like this can take many attempts, over several days sometimes,” Nalika said.

“So we were very glad that we were able to get this pelican out of the water in just a matter of hours.”

After securing the water bird for transport, he was taken to the Marion Animal Hospital, where Wildlife Veterinarian, Dr Jessica Law was waiting for his arrival.

Dr Law immediately sedated the pelican and removed the four hooks that were lodged in his neck, bill, leg and chest. X-rays confirmed that thankfully, the water bird had not ingested any hooks or fishing line.

It was understood that although the hooks had been imbedded for some time and would’ve caused significant pain for the pelican, he was lucky to escape without any serious infections or long-term injuries.

The lucky pelican was soon transferred to a wildlife recovery facility, where he was monitored for several days, before being released back into his natural habitat.

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