Skipper rescues albatross from deadly tangle

23:25, Oct 11 2010
Gary Melville
WHAT A BEAUTY: Albatross Encounter skipper Gary Melville holds the albatross he helped save from certain death after she became entangled in fishing line off the Kaikoura coast on Sunday.

A Kaikoura skipper has saved the life of an albatross he has known for eight years when it became tangled in fishing line.

The banded female bird, a 15-year-old Gibson's wandering albatross well-known to Kaikoura birdwatchers, was seen with her legs caught in hundreds of metres of multi-strand poly-nylon fishing line on Sunday morning.

Albatross Encounter skipper Gary Melville said she would have died if no-one had seen her. "She was buggered, really."

The albatross was spotted by Ian Croucher, of South Bay Fishing tours, who managed to capture her and bring her to shore for attention.

"I told him if she bit him he wouldn't need stitches," Mr Melville said.

Mr Croucher said he managed to get the bird on board with only a few knocks to his head from her wings.

The two cut the fishing line from around her legs and put the albatross on a Dolphin Encounter boat to release her at sea.

"She waddled up to the door and looked in at the dolphin swimmers at one point," Mr Melville said.

Mr Croucher said:"It's not every day that you get to do something like that, it's a real success story."


The Marlborough Express