Vera the pelican bounces back after suffering severe injury

An X-ray of Vera, the pelican, who needed surgery after getting tangled in fishing line and a hook.
An X-ray of Vera, the pelican, who needed surgery after getting tangled in fishing line and a hook. Contributed

A PELICAN that suffered horrific injuries after getting tangled in fishing line and a hook has been released.

Volunteers from Australian Seabird Rescue last week received a call from a member of the public who had spotted the adult female bird looking distressed near the sailing club in Ballina.

ASR's Tiffany Lee said one of the group's "bird whisperers" brought the pelican back to their rehabilitation centre on North Creek Rd to be assessed.

The pelican - dubbed Vera - was then taken to the Lennox Head Vet Clinic where she was x-rayed and underwent surgery, leaving her with multiple stitches.

Ms Lee said Vera was one of the lucky ones.

I would say that 60 to 70 per cent of birds around here have hook and line injuries. It's a huge number

- Tiffany Lee, Australian Seabird Rescue

"She was in a pretty bad way, she was struggling. She had fishing line trailing from her and a hook in her throat ... she was obviously in a lot of pain," she said.

"The injury was not a nice one. But the crew at Lennox Head Vet Clinic did a great job - as always - and we have now been able to release Vera."

Since her release, the pelican has buddied up with another former ASR patient, a juvenile called Tio.

"He's really taken her under his wing," Ms Lee said.

"Pelicans are incredibly resilient ... they've both recovered so well."

But the team at ASR have a strong message for local fishing enthusiasts: Don't leave your fishing line, hooks and sinkers behind.

Ms Lee said injuries like those seen on Vera were increasingly common, yet easily prevented.

"I would say that 60 to 70 per cent of birds around here have hook and line injuries. It's a huge number," she said.

"We've seen birds that get fishing line wrapped around their beaks, which obviously means that they can't feed.

"People need to take their fishing tackle with them. Be responsible, have a conscience.

"Birds, like pelicans in particular, like to hang around fishermen because they can spot an easy meal.

"Unfortunately, it's often to their detriment."


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