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Juvenile Indian yellow-nosed albatross Emily rescued from cargo vessel, flies home

A juvenile yellow-nosed albatross named Emily, has been released after she was rescued aboard a cargo vessel docked at the Durban harbour. Picture: Supplied

A juvenile yellow-nosed albatross named Emily, has been released after she was rescued aboard a cargo vessel docked at the Durban harbour. Picture: Supplied

Published May 13, 2022

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Durban - A juvenile yellow-nosed albatross named Emily, has been released after she was rescued aboard a cargo vessel docked at the Durban harbour. Earlier this month, she was handed over to the uShaka Sea World staff and was given a clean bill of health before her release on Thursday.

National Sea Rescue Institute duty coxswain, Paul Bevis, explained that Emily had landed on a motor vessel at the outer anchorage off-shore of the Port.

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"These majestic birds require a rather lengthy runway to get airborne and the bird, not having a long enough take-off strip on the ship, had parked itself on the ship which then, a few days later, entered the Port of Durban," he said.

Bevis said the Transnet Ports Authority pilot who boarded the ship at sea, to guide the ship into the Port of Durban, was informed of the animal visitor that they had onboard.

He said the Transnet Ports authority pilot contacted uShaka Sea World to see if they could assist.

"Once the ship docked they were met by uShaka Sea World staff who safely captured the bird. The bird, by now malnourished and weak, was rehabilitated, fed, rehydrated and prepared to be released. This rehabilitation process took a few days," Bevis said.

Once Emily had regained her strength, uShaka Sea World reached out to NSRI Durban to see if it would assist them with the release of the bird at sea.

"The brief we got from uShaka Sea World marine scientists was to try to find other bird life at sea and to release the bird at least 5 kilometers off-shore, hopefully near to other sea bird life. NSRI Durban duty crew, accompanied by uShaka Sea World aquarists and a volunteer, took the Indian Yellow Nosed Albatross, secured into a box, onboard our sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski VI and we launched to go to sea," he said.

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Around 5-kilometres offshore of the Port of Durban, the team searched for other sea birds and despite not finding any, they decided to release Emily.

At a distance of 6.5 nautical miles off-shore, uShaka Sea World aquarist Lesley Labaschagne and an uShaka Sea World volunteer prepared to release the bird. Picture: Supplied

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"At a distance of 6.5 nautical miles off-shore, uShaka Sea World aquarist Lesley Labaschagne and an uShaka Sea World volunteer prepared to release the bird.

“Because these animals are known to react unfavourably to bright colours, taking all efforts to assist to alleviate the bird from any stress and in the interest of taking all precautions for the wellbeing and care for the bird, Lesley and the volunteer removed their brightly coloured orange life-jackets and the brightly coloured yellow NSRI helmets, and while under increased safety measures taken by our NSRI crew, the bird was carefully removed from her boat. Lesley, firmly but gently handling the bird, prepared him to be released," Bevis said.

Those aboard had to be very still and quiet and once the sea rescue craft was turned broadside and in favourable conditions, Emily was released.

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However, Emily landed in the water and the team watched her bob up and down for at least 20 minutes, preening.

"Seemingly satisfied with her grooming efforts the bird faced herself into the gentle headwind and with a few steps on the water and some wing extensions she gathered momentum and took flight into the clear blue skies of Durban. Humbled by this beautiful and majestic experience, following the successful mission to release the young bird at sea, we returned to base," Bevis said.

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