Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Taronga's Wildlife Hospital manager with the lethal fish hooks.

Libby Hall and Lethal Fish Hooks

Two dead sea gannets, a dead pelican, a disfigured turtle and injured penguin. Not a great first sentence and not a great few weeks for marine wildlife.

Normally we’re thrilled to say we’re hooked on wildlife, but recently, hooks, lines and sinkers have been wreaking havoc down at our Wildlife Hospital.

In the last few weeks we’ve had huge numbers of animals bought to our hospital with lethal fish hooks inside their stomachs, through their wings and beaks, and with fishing line wrapped tightly around their feet and flippers.Many Australian pelicans are bought to Taronga's Wildlife Hospital after swallowing lethal fish hooks.

Despite the tireless efforts of Zoo vets and wildlife nurses who laboured over difficult surgeries to remove the hooks and lines, some animals including a charismatic pelican, an adult and a juvenile gannet had their lives tragically cut short. They all survived their operations, but the internal injuries and external wounds proved too much for these beautiful marine birds to survive, each of them dying within a matter of days.

Pelican marine debris victim

 A Green Turtle will also be permanently disfigured thanks to fishing line that was wrapped so tightly around one of its flippers that without any circulation running through it, the limb was actually dead upon arrival at the hospital. The only option was to amputate the flipper. It’s had weeks of rehabilitation, and we hope in time it can be returned to the oceans. Green Turtles are endangered, so every single individual is vitally important.

Last but not least, a Little Penguin was also a victim of fishing line, being brought into the hospital with it wrapped around its feet. Thankfully this plucky penguin was found in time and is on the mend. It was one of the lucky ones, another Little Penguin that was brought to our hospital a few years ago actually had its foot sawn clear off by tightly coiled fishing line.

X-ray showing fishing hooks inside the Pelican

Dropping in a fishing line is a favourite Aussie pastime, but please, we’re asking you, spare a thought for the animals that share the waterways and your favourite fishing spots.

Take with you ALL of your line and fishing tackle when you leave or use Oceanwatch's 'TAngler Bins' located at popular fishing spots. 

We know most people wouldn’t even realise the implications human rubbish has on wildlife, but when you see a pelican struggling to live or watch our veterinary team spend hours carefully removing wire hooks and line which threatens to lacerate an animal’s stomach lining, you soon realise why the saying, “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos, kill nothing but time” is a good mantra to live by.

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