Local wildlife carers have released a young gannet back into the wild, after caring for and raising the ocean bird which was found abandoned on a beach.
The gannet, affectionately known as Summer, is believed to have become separated from a flock of gannets living on Mud Islands in Port Phillip Bay.
Local wildlife carer Robyn Rule said the young gannet required eight weeks of care before she could be released back into the wild.
“Summer needed to grow up a little bit more so she could survive in the ocean. Had she remained on the beach, it’s unlikely she would have survived.”
Birdlife Australia Shore Birds 2020 project manager Golo Maurer said it was very rare to hear of gannets being reared by humans.
“Generally gannets stay in their colonies and are unlikely to survive away from the group because they are unable to look after themselves on land.”
To ensure her survival in the wild, Ms Rule encouraged Summer to dive for her food like other gannets, with the bird often consuming 32 pilchards a day.
“Originally, we had to force feed her, but by the end she realised where the food was coming from and you could throw her a fish and she would dive for it,” she said.
Summer has since been released back into the wild but will always be remembered as one of the more unusual animals the wildlife carers have encountered.
“When we released her I felt like any mother taking their child to school for the first time. All that we can hope is that she has a good life.”
Ms Rule asked that people who find injured wildlife do three things to increase the animal’s chances of survival.
“Cover the animal with a towel to prevent it stressing, stay with it if safe to do so and call Wildlife Victoria immediately.
“A wild animal flees to protect itself, so this can often make our job very difficult when people leave an injured animal unattended. If people can stay with the animal or keep it in sight until we arrive, they can help us to achieve a much more successful outcome.”
For further information about wildlife volunteering, protection and conservation contact Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 or visit wildlifevictoria.org.au.
This story featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.
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