A beautiful juvenile Indian Yellow Nosed Albatross was released in Durban this week thanks to the help of the NSRI and the uShaka Sea World.
Durban, South Africa (13 May 2022) – Paul Bevis, NSRI Durban duty coxswain, shared a heartwarming story about the release of a juvenile albatross that took place this week. The NSRI assisted the uShaka Sea World in releasing a juvenile Albatross at sea.
The sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski VI was used to complete this important mission on Thursday, 12 May. The NSRI duty crew came together to get the bird safely out to sea. According to Paul Bevis, the bird landed on a boat heading towards the port.
He explained that the juvenile Indian Yellow Nosed Albatross had landed on a motor vessel at the outer anchorage off-shore of the Port of Durban. Without a lengthy runway to get airborne, the bird sat on the boat as it made its way to the Durban harbour.
The Transnet Ports Authority pilot contacted uShaka Sea World for assistance with the bird. They were able to capture it and take it back to their facility to be checked. The bird was malnourished and weak but was easily rehabilitated, fed and rehydrated. After a few days, they could release the bird back to the wild.
“The brief we got from uShaka Sea World marine scientists was to try to find other bird life at sea and to release the bird at least 5 kilometres off-shore, hopefully near to other sea bird life.
NSRI Durban duty crew, accompanied by uShaka Sea World aquarists and a volunteer, took the Indian Yellow Nosed Albatross, secured it into a box, onboard our sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski VI and we launched to go to sea.
From about 5 kilometers off-shore of the Port of Durban we searched for a while to see if we could find other sea birds around but failing to find any birds the decision was made to release the Albatross.
At a distance of 6.5 nautical miles off-shore, uShaka Sea World aquarist Lesley Labaschagne and an uShaka Sea World volunteer prepared to release the bird.”
The release was done with a special set of safety measures because it is known that the albatross would not react well to the brightly coloured safety gear, orange life-jackets and helmets. The ladies removed their safety gear once the boat had stopped.
The entire boat crew held their breath, and Paul shared that all they could hear was the soft lapping of the waves on the side of the boat. Aquarist Lesley removed the beautiful bird from its box and, together with the volunteer, released it into the wind. Once the bird was released, the ladies were able to put on their safety gear again.
“In favourable sea conditions with about an 8 to 10 knot wind Lesley and the volunteer held the bird up, facing into the wind, gently throwing him up into the air in the hopes that he would catch the headwind that may have given him enough lift to take flight.
But instead of taking flight the Albatross simply and promptly landed in the water.
From a safe distance we watched him bobbing up and down on the sea swells while he appeared to take a good 15 to 20 minutes cleaning and preening himself.
Seemingly satisfied with his grooming efforts the bird faced himself into the gentle headwind and with a few steps on the water and some wing extensions he gathered momentum and took flight into the clear blue skies of Durban.
Humbled by this beautiful and majestic experience, following the successful mission to release the young bird at sea, we returned to base.”