Pat van Eyssen, NSRI Table Bay duty coxswain, said:
On Tuesday, 12 January, at around 11h00, NSRI Table Bay duty crew were activated at the request of SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) to assist in an ongoing rescue operation of Cape Cormorant chicks at Robben Island.
It appears that a large number of Cape Cormorant chicks may have been abandoned on the island and left to fend for themselves. Reasons for the parents absence is being investigated by SANCCOB.
According to SANCCOB their rangers on the Island had been monitoring the situation and with the chicks parents having not returned, for unknown reasons, the decision was taken to intervene.
Additional SANCCOB rangers and Two Oceans Aquarium staff were dispatched to join their colleagues and Robben Island Museum staff on the Island and they gathered chicks into boxes to be brought to SANCCOB for care and protection.
In a statement SANCCOB has said:
“Hundreds of Cape Cormorant chicks rescued from Robben Island are currently being admitted to our Cape Town facility in Table View. A robust rescue effort with Robben Island Museum, Two Oceans Aquarium and NSRI was executed today to retrieve the abandoned chicks and transport them to our care. Each chick is being assessed and hydrated on admission and our team of staff, interns and volunteers are giving 110% to their care and accommodation. We will keep you informed of the findings of researchers and veterinary staff in the days ahead. Thank you to all involved in the rescue!”
NSRI Table Bay were requested to assist with transport of chicks from the Island to mainland.
The sea rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom was launched, accompanied by a SANCCOB member, and on arrival at the Island they were transported to a location on the Northern side of the Island by Robben Island Museum staff.
While at the scene our NSRI crew assisted SANCCOB rangers, Two Oceans Aquarium staff and Robben Island Museum staff to collect more of the Cape Cormorant chicks that were placed into boxes.
A total of 128 chicks, loaded into 16 boxes, were brought to Murray Bay harbour and loaded onto our sea rescue craft and in the care of SANCCOB they were brought to our NSRI Table Bay sea rescue station and they have been transported to SANCCOB in Table View for further care.
A team from SANCCOB, Two Oceans Aquarium and Robben Island Museum staff remain on-site to monitor the situation and if the chicks parents don’t return more chicks may need to be taken into the care of SANCCOB.
NSRI Table Bay remain on alert to assist further if required.
NSRI commend SANCCOB, Two Oceans Aquarium and the Robben Island Museum teams for their care and concern for the Cape Cormorant chicks.