A pod of pelicans bobbed on the water. Gulls waddled back into the sea. Cormorants trekked into the ocean. Joe Mestas, a St. Pete Beach photographer, chimed in:
“After release, many of them gathered offshore, as if having a reunion or waiting for their friends to be released.”
Known for its rehabilitative practices among rescued and injured birds, the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary’s main focus is to release the birds back into their natural habitat. On Jan. 5, the Indian Shores center held the first release of the year, freeing pelicans, gulls, and cormorants back into nature.
Since the center sits on the sandy shores of Indian Rocks beach, the sanctuary staff and volunteers gathered the birds who were ready for their journey back into the wild and headed behind the center to the water.
The release drew the interest of locals and tourists, eager to watch the healthy birds re-enter their natural environments. Audience members smiled wide grins and crouched into prime photo-taking positions as staff and volunteers carried birds to the shore.
Workers transported each bird individually, grasping their beaks safely, then placing the flying creature near the water, allowing them to approach their natural environment once again.
Each winged warrior adjusted differently: Some birds waddled into the water, re-familiarizing themselves with the sea, while others took a few steps and soared over the ocean.
Mestas described the experience as a, “great, great experience to watch these birds return to the sea.”
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