What is Audubon doing for the pelican?
Audubon staff and chapters are training volunteers to work on piers to rescue pelicans that have been tangled with fishing line or swallowed bones. Audubon has also partnered in the production of an informational brochure called What to Do if You Hook a Pelican. Additionally, we have installed fishing line recycling tubes on fishing piers and in harbors to encourage proper disposal and reduce the amount of line that ends up in our waterways.
Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries staff patrol 75 colony islands along the Southwest Florida coastline to remove entangled birds as well as fishing tackle. Each fall, staff organize coastal cleanups to educate citizens on how much fishing line enters our waterways as well as encouraging methods of safely and effectively removing it.
Critically, Audubon is pioneering new living shoreline initiatives to reduce erosion and increase resiliency in areas the pelicans need to both feed and nest. Expanded projects in the Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary and four other regionally important rookery islands both add to these efforts and inspire other landowners to undertake similar efforts.
Photo: Photo: Dennis Werntz/Audubon Photography Awards.
he Alafia Bank hosts the largest Brown Pelican colony in the Tampa Bay region and is an important multi-species bird nesting island for the entire Gulf region. Storms and boat wakes have eroded the shorelines of islands used as nesting habitat by not only Brown Pelicans, but also terns, shorebirds, and wading birds.
In an effort to stabilize the islands without losing natural shoreline, Audubon has teamed up with The Mosaic Company, Port Tampa Bay, Living Shorelines Solutions, and Reef Innovations to install additional reef breakwaters to reduce onshore wave energy, trap sediment, and gain shoreline width. In addition to reducing erosion, breakwaters produce calm water between the shore and the island, creating fertile ground for seagrass, which acts as an underwater nursery for crustaceans, fish, and other organisms.
Once complete, the new living shoreline will provide shelter for Brown Pelicans into the future, providing additional nesting habitat not only for the birds born here, but also for those relocated after the Deepwater Horizon Spill.
Photo: Peter Brannon/Audubon Photography Awards.
What can I do?
Join a coastal cleanup, and tell your friends and family about the strange items that end up in our natural ecosystems each year. To reduce plastic consumption, avoid single-use items all together, re-use what you can, and recycle whenever possible.
Volunteer to help remove fishing line or start your own program to work at local piers and harbors.
Photo: Lorraine Minns/Audubon Photography Awards.