SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – A couple of unusual flying companions made a life-saving trip to California.
It was a pelican and a turtle and both animals were in grave danger.
A very special cargo was loaded onto this single-engine SOCATA Turbo Prop in Newport, Oregon.
An American White Pelican and a Loggerhead sea turtle were the passengers bound for sunny San Diego.
The story begins with the discovery of both animals injured in the wild. The turtle was found “cold-stunned” on an Oregon beach.
“Many of these turtles are actually feeding offshore in the summertime and those nice warm currents. And then our temperatures change pretty quickly in the Pacific Northwest. So that cold water suddenly rushes in replaces it. The warm water, these reptiles are at the mercy of the waves and the temperature, and they basically cold stun and they just wash up on shore,” Evonne Mochon-Collura, with the Oregon Coast Aquarium, said.
By the time rescuers got to the turtle, she was pretty beat up.
“She had some scuffs and scars on her and scratches on her from being thrown up against potential rocks that she was riding into shore. So there was some bleeding and so some small wounds that we actually had to attend to pretty quickly,” Mochon-Collura said.
Meantime, this American white pelican was found last year injured on the Willamette River near Eugene.
COVID restrictions delayed its move to a permanent home.
“Wing injury and some other, um, bumps and bruises. And the wound was, it had an infected wound and whatnot and was treated there. It was deemed nonreleasable because the bird is unable to fly,” Kim Peterson, with Seaworld Rescue, said.
Finally, both animals were ready to be transported at the same time and were able to take the flight together to Southern California.
“Quite fortunate that we were able to connect with a pilot that had a plane and space and the time to be able to do this. And so loaded into the plane, went turtle in her crate. And then on, on top of that, the crate was the carrier with the Pelican and the sheet over to hopefully keep things a little bit quiet and calm,” Mochon-Collura said.
“Just to shorten that duration that they are small crate is very stressful. They start emitting stress hormones that have a debilitating effect on their overall health. So to have the transportation transport happen as quickly as really, really important,” Peterson said.
Both animals are on the mend and will be in their new homes soon.
The turtle will be released into the warmer Southern California waters.
The pelican won’t be able to be released into the wild because it can’t fly.
Instead, she will move in with a male pelican named Mr. Peabody at an animal sanctuary in New Mexico.