|Pelicans at mouth of Meunga Creek, Cardwell|
|A similar scene to the one the pelican flew through|
It was dark by the time I could get a boat prepared with gloves, motors, knife for cutting line etc. The pelican was a kilometre down the beach and a long way out. A volunteer assured me he could swim and jumped in the tinny but he looked nervous. We took a breaking wave over the front which emphasized that light weight car topper tinnys and open sea are a bad combination. I went out a long way to silhouette the pelican against the fading western sky. As the pelican could still take off, I came in on him with the 4 hp motor at full speed and he dodged us a couple of times but we got him on about the sixth attempt. He had a lure embedded in his wing and he was trailing a huge length of fishing line. On the way back we plugged along slowly to avoid pounding through the waves but it was so dark I could not see the beach break. Our peripheral vision is slightly better at night and could just make out where we were but at night you can't be certain. I made it back to the creek mouth avoiding the breaking waves on both sides and my volunteer admitted that he could not really swim.
As fish hooks have barbs, they can't just be pulled out. I had to push the point of the hook out through the skin, crush the barb down with pliers and then gently ease the hook back out. Pelican skin is very tough and even though I could feel the tip of the hook through the skin, it took as much force as my fingers could take to push the hook through. To calm the pelican, his head is covered with a shirt and he is being held gently but firmly. The pelican looked fine other than a small wound at the site of the lure so we decided that it would be least stressful on the pelican if we just released it. He took few seconds to get his bearings when the shirt was removed and he flew to the nearest sand bank 50 m away where I hope he spent the night recovering.
|Lure in pelican's wing|
|Pelican being released|
|The line that the pelican was trailing|