Australian Seabird Rescue to hold training workshop in Kiama

Lisa Hood and Betty Spilstead tend to an injured pelican in need of medical attention.
Lisa Hood and Betty Spilstead tend to an injured pelican in need of medical attention.

The Australian Seabird Rescue (ASR) South Coast branch covers an enormous area from the edge of the shire in the north, to Narooma in the south. 

To ensure an available and trained volunteer base, ASR is running training this month for the capture, handling and first aid of seabirds, shorebirds and other wildlife found along our coastline. The workshop will cover how to capture birds that are sick and injured, along with performing emergency first aid in the field, rehabilitating and releasing birds.

Pelicans and seabirds are often in trouble but only the trained eye can spot the danger. It may be a feather out of place, or a crumpled wing, both indicating a fishing line entanglement or a hook injury. Other times it’s obvious and a member of the public calls in, distressed that there is a pelican or gannet or other seabird suffering.

The ASR South Coast branch has been operating since 2005 offering rescue and rehabilitation for injured seabirds, penguins and turtles; as well as advocacy for seabirds, marine animals and their habitat – our beaches and the ocean.  

Each year thousands of holiday makers inundate the beautiful south coast beaches and waterways, enjoying fishing, boating, surfing and swimming. Many of these holiday makers do not have a good knowledge of safe recreational fishing practices, and as a result of unsafe recreational fishing, hundreds of sea, shore and water birds, are injured, particularly pelicans.

Read more: Injured pelican released in Kiama

Read more: Photographer Paul Blake captures pelican rescue

Pelicans are opportunist feeders, scavengers, and are commonly found around fishing tables and boat ramps, and they are prime candidates for discarded fishing tackle injuries. Seabirds do not know you are fishing and just see food at the end of your line and may dive in to grab it.

“We are always educating local fishing people about how long it takes for a hook to rust away, and how to gently wind a bird in and remove the hook if they accidentally get entangled,” ASR South Coast coordinator Bonnie Cassen said. 

“If people see an injured seabird, they can phone our hotline and we will get a rescue team out to catch the bird and see what the problem is.

“Hook and line entanglement are the most common injuries, and if not dealt with in a timely manner can cause greater injuries such as the loss of a wing or leg.

“There is a myth that hooks rust away quickly, within a week, but that is not the case. Hooks don’t rust away, and infection can mean a slow and painful death for the seabird.”

The ASR South Coast branch rescues hundreds of pelicans and seabirds each year, and in the last 12 years have rescued 1400 pelicans as well as hundreds of shearwaters, petrels, albatross, seagulls and other seabirds and shorebirds, penguins and turtles. The vast majority of these birds are rescued, rehabilitated and released, but also there are many that do not make it.

Workshop details: Saturday, October 28, 9.30am to 12.30pm, in Kiama (venue details supplied upon booking).

For bookings call the ASR hotline on 0431282238 or 0403433515.

Workshop enquiries and to report injured seabirds contact the ASR South Coast hotline on 0431 282 238.

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