Seven seagulls that were rescued after being tossed from a boat into Merimbula Lake last month have now been released back into the wild.
Seven of the young seabirds were cared for by WIRES volunteers Adriana Turk and Luke Stefko while the other seven were looked after by Kristine Smits.
The seagulls were rescued on Saturday, January 9, when Ms Smits’ son Shane witnessed two men and a young boy tossing the baby birds as well as their nests and some eggs from a boat into the waters of Merimbula Lake.
Looking after seven seagulls was no easy task for Ms Turk and Mr Stefko who not only had to feed the birds but also had to bring in a constant supply of clean sea water and sand for the birds to ensure they adapt to their environment.
“We fed them a lot of fish and cat food, so it could get quite expensive,” Ms Turk said. “We tried to feed them take away fish and chips but surprisingly they would touch it.”
Ms Turk said that although it was a lot of work it was also a very rewarding experience.
“We’ve done all we can for them and now they are old enough that we have to set them free, it’s bittersweet but now we just have to hope they do well on their own.”
They were unsure of how old the gulls were when they were rescued but knew they were still at the stage where their mother was feeding them.
Now almost one month later the birds were ready to be released.
On Friday, January 5, at 1pm Ms Turk and Mr Stefko brought the seven seagulls, along with three other seagulls they were caring for, to Spencer Park to set them free.
They brought plenty of bread with them to attract other seagulls. Once there were enough other birds they opened the cages and held their breath.
When the seagulls were first spotted being thrown into the water, the mature gulls went “ballistic” and began swooping the juveniles in the water, not recognising them as their own.
Ms Turk and Mr Stefko were worried that the same would happen.
But thankfully the juveniles were unharmed and all flew off with their new flock.
Ms Turk said what has stuck with her is not that someone tried to kill the young birds in the first place but the reaction and support from the public.
“It was just great to see that so many people wanted to save the birds and now people know that if this sort of thing happens then all they have to do it contact wires.”
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