[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Pelican saved from fishing line and hooks


Pelican saved from fishing line and hooks

Aaron Winfree and his fiancé, Megan Durnin, along with Paul Irvine, rescue an entangled pelican in Nokomis on Tuesday.


Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 11:02 p.m.

NOKOMIS - A pelican diving into the Intracoastal Waterway was saved by some good Samaritans after it swallowed a hook along with its usual helping of herring and tuna.

Pelicans, seagulls and ducks are a sample of the local wildlife that enjoys taking handouts from humans. But sometimes what people offer animals is more sinister than bread crumbs.

On Tuesday, patrons at Pop's Sunset Grill in Nokomis were dining on the dock and taking in the natural scenery: manatees, dolphins, snowy egrets and yellow-crowned night herons when one table noticed a pelican, immobilized in the water. The seabird was tangled in fishing line and unable to fly.

A server at the restaurant, Steve Brewster, flagged down a passing boat to help save the pelican.

Aaron Winfree and his fiancé, Megan Durnin, along with Paul Irvine, were in the intracoastal waters in a pontoon boat when they saw Brewster, their co-worker, standing on the dock, waving his arms and pointing at the injured bird.

When the group tried to rescue the pelican, the bird fluttered just out of reach. That is when Winfree jumped into the water to retrieve the bird.

Diners looked on with anticipation as Winfree and Irvine worked together to hoist the pelican onto the boat. The bird protested and flailed about, even nicking Irvine in the elbow with its beak.

When the pelican was finally brought onboard, onlookers clapped and cheered. Winfree said the pelican put on quite a show for the people at the restaurant.

Once Winfree and Irvine finally had a hold on the pelican, they assessed its damage.

The young female pelican was stuck with three separate hooks and ensnared in fishing line.

Winfree and Irvine used scissors and pliers to free the bird. The line was tightly wound around the bird's beak and if it had not been removed, the bird may have starved.

At this point, the group would have let the pelican go had they not noticed a line coming out of the bird's beak and suspected it had swallowed a hook.

The Wildlife Center of Venice rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife and were called to come pick up the pelican.

Shelecia Weeks of Venice, a volunteer, drove the pelican to the wildlife center's rehabilitation center, where the bird made a full recovery.

"It is gut-wrenching and heart-warming to see someone want to help an injured bird," Weeks said.

Winfree said he and his friends did what any human should do in the same situation. "Our hearts went out to it. It was sad, but in the end, it was a great outcome."

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