Photo Credit: Martine Viljoen

SANCCOB called in a favour from the NSRI to help rescue a flock of abandoned Cape Cormorant chicks from Robben Island; working together to save hundreds of birds.


Robben Island, South Africa (13 January 2021) – Teamwork is dream work; so when the NSRI answered the call from SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds), they jumped at the opportunity to save over 128 little lives.

SANCCOB was notified yesterday that 128 Cape Cormorant chicks had been abandoned for reasons unknown. They activated their team, and with the help of the NSRI Table Bay duty crew, they set off for Robben Island to start the rescue operation.

According to SANCCOB, their rangers on the Island had been monitoring the situation for a time. Once it was established that the chicks’ parents were not returning, the decision was taken to intervene. The situation is currently being investigated to establish why there was a mass abandonment.

Additional SANCCOB rangers and Two Oceans Aquarium staff were dispatched to join their colleagues, and Robben Island Museum staff on the Island and they gathered chicks into boxes to be brought to SANCCOB for care and protection.

“Hundreds of Cape Cormorant chicks rescued from Robben Island are currently being admitted to our Cape Town facility in Table View. A robust rescue effort with Robben Island Museum, Two Oceans Aquarium and NSRI was executed today to retrieve the abandoned chicks and transport them to our care. Each chick is being assessed and hydrated on admission and our team of staff, interns and volunteers are giving 110% to their care and accommodation. We will keep you informed of the findings of researchers and veterinary staff in the days ahead. Thank you to all involved in the rescue!” – SANCCOB

NSRI Table Bay was requested to assist with transport of chicks from the Island to the mainland. Using their sea rescue craft the Spirit of Vodacom, they were transported from the Northern side of the Island.

“A total of 128 chicks, loaded into 16 boxes, were brought to Murray Bay harbour and loaded onto our sea rescue craft and in the care of SANCCOB they were brought to our NSRI Table Bay sea rescue station and they have been transported to SANCCOB in Table View for further care.

A team from SANCCOB, Two Oceans Aquarium and Robben Island Museum staff remain on-site to monitor the situation and if the chicks parents don’t return more chicks may need to be taken into the care of SANCCOB.

NSRI Table Bay remain on alert to assist further if required.”

NSRI commend SANCCOB, Two Oceans Aquarium and the Robben Island Museum teams for their care and concern for the Cape Cormorant chicks.” – Pat van Eyssen, NSRI Table Bay Duty Coxswain

Due to the workload of caring for the chicks, the Table View branch has paused their tours to the public to give the chicks their 100% attention. Stay tuned to the SANCCOB Saves Seabirds Facebook page for updates about the chicks and ways to get involved.

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Tyler Leigh Vivier
About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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