Red Tide Paralyzes Pelicans

Posted on Friday 29 December 2006

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has reported they are getting several pelicans a day who have been paralyzed by red tide. They are so parlayzed they can’t stand, swallow or even blink. Several have died from this of course. Of the pelicans Conservancy officials treat, about 80-percent survive - but only with weeks of fluids, food, and a lot of care.

Most of the pelicans are coming in from the Naples Pier area.

I’ll have more on this story as soon as the Conservancy gets back to me.

If you see a sick pelican, Fitzgerald says the best thing to do is to trap it with a bin or a garbage can and bring it to the Conservancy’s rehab center.
Because there are so many sick pelicans, there is not enough staff to go around and pick them up.

UPDATE:
I heard back form the Conservancy of Southwest Florida already,while they weren’t able to answer my specific questions yet because the people in the know are busy saving some pelicans, there were able to give me some interesting info:

  • There’s been a 250% Increase in Pelicans Admitted to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Since November (60 vs. 17 in 2005)
  • Red tide appears to be the main culprit. Joanna Fitzgerald Vaught explains, “They’re very weak, they’re disoriented, they’re wobbly - it’s almost like they’re drunk, They’re so paralyzed they can’t even blink, so even their eyes are stuck open. On December 17, we had 5 pelicans come in from the Naples pier and all 5 of them died.”
  • Fishing line and fishing hook injuries caused by careless line casting is also a major factor
  • We (The Conservancy of Southwest Florida) have 35 pelicans at WRC right now and released 9 today (12/29).
  • 60% of all pelican patients this year have come in since November. Last year only 12% of our pelican patients came in Nov. - December
  • They’re still receiving 2 per day on the average and are having a 70-80% success rate in releasing them. Joanna Fitzgerald Vaught explains, “Once they’re released back into the wild, there is no guarantee they won’t be poisoned by red tide all over again.”

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