Pelican hit by jet ski

POSTED: 09/11/12 12:28 PM

St. Maarten – Last Thursday a police bike patrol on the boardwalk alerted the Nature Foundation that they had seen a sick pelican on Great Bay Beach in the vicinity of Cornie’s Beach Bar. Staff of the Nature Foundation found an injured pelican on the location that was rescued by Mr. Cornelius De Weever after it was struck by a jet ski.
The foundation transported the injured animal to the St. Maarten Veterinary Clinic where the animal did not show any broken bones or fractures. The pelican received a dose of steroids to overcome the shock and was subsequently transported to the St. Maarten zoo where it is currently recovering.

The Brown Pelican is the national bird of St. Maarten and carries with it a high biological, historical and cultural significance. Based on previous research conducted by the Nature Foundation an overall total of 339 individuals were recorded on St. Maarten with 8 chicks and 35 sub-adults. It was further determined that breeding season for adult pelicans runs from approximately the beginning of June through August with the peak occurring at the end of July through the beginning of August.
The foundation also researched the numerous threats the resident pelican population faces on St. Maarten. The primary threat is related to habitat destruction. The resident pelican population has decreased drastically in the last four decades which coincides with the building boom experienced on St. Maarten during the nineteen sixties and seventies when numerous breeding locations had to make way for sea-front development.

Pelicans also face threats from being struck by boats and other watercraft, including jet skis as was evident with the case on Thursday.

The final threat to the species is related to the entanglement in fishing line and marine debris such as plastic bags and other garbage. The Nature Foundation often responds to incidents where pelicans are caught in fishing line or hooks, fishing nets, plastic bags, or soda can holders. A line recycling program may reduce incidents of marine entanglement to not only pelicans but also to other marine wildlife.

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