Saving a Life – the Tale of Victory
While patrolling the waters of Clearwater Harbor over the Memorial Day Weekend, a crewmember aboard US Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel Broad on the Bar spotted a pelican that was behaving unusually. Normally, a pelican will fly away when a boat approaches. This one did not. When they maneuvered the boat closer to see what was wrong, they noticed its head was in an odd position. After some difficulty trying to get close enough to the pelican to net it, one of the crewmembers successfully captured it.
Once the pelican was onboard, they were able to determine that it was in a life-threatening situation. There was a large fishing lure – at least 6’ long – hooked at one end of the treble hooks into the pelican’s beak and the other end of the treble hooks into the body in front of the right wing. As a result, the pelican couldn’t raise its head – it couldn’t fly and it couldn’t eat.
Once they realized how desperate the bird’s condition was, the Coast Guard Auxiliarists rushed the pelican to Coast Guard Station Sand Key. Once docked, several members of the Coast Guard assisted with wire cutters and with much difficulty, were able to cut the lure away from the hooks. This was a temporary fix that let the pelican raise its head to a normal position. But, it didn’t solve the whole problem since the hooks were still imbedded in its beak and body.
The Coast Guard Petty Officer of the Day contacted the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary who responded that they would send a representative to the Coast Guard Station to retrieve the pelican. The pelican was placed in a large cage that is placed at Station Sand Key to hold rescued birds until they can be given proper care. In honor of Memorial Day and because they were becoming attached to the pelican, the crew from Broad on the Bow named the bird – Victory.
When the representative from the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary arrived, everyone knew her. She was also an Auxiliarist. She took Victory to the Sanctuary for further care by the professionals. An email was received giving a positive update: “Thanks so much for caring enough to do a great pelican pick-up rescue. Hopefully this pelican will stay out of fisherman’s way from now on. It will be at the hospital ‘til it’s eating well and then to rehab until released. The future looks good for Victory.”
Members of the public can contact the members of the Clearwater Coast Guard Auxiliary at www.uscgauxclearwater.com