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Hooper the gannet rescued from plastic tangle

News | Published:

A JUVENILE gannet is recovering after being rescued from a tangle of plastic by Environment Guernsey and a keen ornithologist.

Birder Chris Massey had been out on the headland at Jaonneuse sea watching on Monday morning when he noticed the bird swim past.

He then called Environment Guernsey and Jamie Hooper was soon on his way down.

Mr Massey followed the bird into the bay and as it came ashore he was able to tell it was a young gannet caught in various plastics.

Waiting for support, Mr Massey ushered away dog walkers to protect the bird.

‘At this point the last thing you would want to do is force the bird back into the sea,’ said Mr Hooper.

‘Chris waited with it and kept away some dog walkers.

‘I came up from behind the bird to try and cut off its escape back to the water, but it was actually so exhausted and hungry it had fallen asleep on the shoreline.’

The pair then cut the gannet free of various lengths of string and nylon cord which had become caught around its feet, body and jaw.

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Offering it the opportunity to head back in the water, the bird just wandered around the shore.

‘That is when I decided that this bird needed a bit more than simply cutting free so we took the bird up to the GSPCA.

'Apparently it ate three mackerel after it got there yesterday afternoon.’

Mr Hooper said the bird’s plight indicated the effect plastics and man as whole was having on the oceans, wildlife and planet.

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‘I would reckon that the young gannet had taken the plastic items with him when he fledged and that his parents had used the items to build the nest.

'They can only use what is floating on the surface of the ocean to build and while 80% to 90% of that is seaweed it is the brightly coloured items that catch their eye,’ said Mr Hooper.

GSPCA manager Steve Byrne said: ‘We get about half a dozen to a dozen [gannets] every year and at least a few will have similar waste fishing tackle related issues.

‘We named the gannet Hooper in honour of Jamie and he has recovered well – eating mackerel today and yesterday.

‘One of the lads will come up and ring him so we can keep tabs on him in the future.

‘They are wonderful birds and sadly we have seen some pass away up here.

‘He should get another half foot or so larger, gannets can be quite some size when fully grown.’

Yves Le

By Yves Le
News reporter

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