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Florida Seabird Undergoes Life-Saving Surgery To Remove Hook From Stomach [VIDEO]

Feb 25, 2016 01:06 PM EST
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Marine debris can have a devastating impact on seabirds. In a recent case, a Northern Gannet had to have major life-saving surgery after swallowing a fishing hook. Doctors from the South Florida Wildlife Center, where the bird received the operation, say it is now a "waiting game" when it comes to the animal's survival.

"We did this quick X-ray while he was awake and there's a very large hook in his stomach," Dr. Antonia Gardner told CBS Miami.

But wait, that's not all.

"He was also shot. There's two very small pellets -- one in his wing, one in either his back or abdomen area," Dr. Gardner added.

The Northern Gannet was found lethargic on Delray Beach, in Palm Beach County. Generally, these birds are either bobbing on the water or flying over it in search of food, but this injured fella was just sitting on the beach. When it didn't move, people in the area got concerned.

"You could definitely see a string and the gentleman felt his neck and you could feel the [hook] in his throat. We knew he was in bad shape," Deborah Dexter, one of the spectators who helped the bird, said.

After finally making it to the operating table at the wildlife center, veterinarians were able to remove the large hook. But Dr. Gardner said it was a tricky surgery and the bird has a rough road to recovery ahead, as the hook tore the bird's esophagus, which means there could be infection.

"I kind of give him a 50-50 chance, maybe a little less because of the perforation. We don't know how much damage, how long it was in there," Dr. Gardner, explained.

This unfortunate incident highlights the need to properly dispose of all fishing materials, including lines and hooks. In fact, not too long ago a female turtle was found tethered to a jetty by fishing line in Western Australia's Bibra Lake and had to undergo complicated hook-removal surgery, too.

"It makes me feel like we all have to take care of our world and clean up our mess," Lori Leveen, one of the bird's rescuers, added. "It's feisty and strong enough to be a fighter. That's what it takes. I'm just praying that with this wonderful work they're doing right now that he comes out alive and I can be there when he's released."

In the meantime, doctors are treating the bird with a strong dose of antibiotics and paying close attention to ensure infection doesn't spread.


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