Posted: Feb 14, 2013 6:04 PM by Mitch Bryan
Updated: Feb 15, 2013 2:10 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI - For the past month, dead pelicans have been washing up underneath the docks of the People's Street T-head and staff at the restaurant have been trying to figure out what is killing these, otherwise, healthy-looking birds.
For the past 4 weeks, staff and managers at Harrison's Landing have been trying to figure out what is killing the marina pelicans. These are pictures from the first time I spoke with them nearly 2 weeks ago. Back then the total of washed up pelicans was at 5, this morning made it 7, in only 4 weeks.
"It's Valentine's Day, big day, busy day. We're all running around, I walked down by our cooler back there and there was another pelican floating in the water," said Samantha Parten, a manager at the restaurant.
Like they have done for the past month, staff members at the restaurant fished out the pelican's body and bagged it up to be thrown away, but that doesn't keep them from wanting to know what's going on.
"We're just really concerned about this. This has been an ongoing issue, we're very adamant about taking care of the environment and everything down here. So, we really wanted to bring it to every body's attention that something is going on, and we need to get it taken care of," Parten said.
So, I met Clare Lee, at the US Fish and Wildlife Office at TAMUCC, where she explained that it's a lot more common than you might think.
"We have this problem almost every year. The younger birds that come off the nest, and they get used to feeding from the by-catch from the shrimpers," Lee said.
According to Clare, with shrimping season wrapped up for now, these young adult pelicans are not feasting at the usual buffet of shrimp pieces, tossed in the water by the shrimpers.
Leaving the birds to wither away, due to the fact that many have them never had to learn to hunt and fish for themselves.
"And once the shrimping season closes, then they don't get that by-catch, they have trouble feeding or maybe they're not feeding much at all, or getting what they can from whatever handouts they can. And so, they kind of slowly starve to death," Clare said.
So it looks as though this may be a seasonal headache for the restaurant staff, who will have to keep an eye out for dead pelicans during the winter season.
All because these spoiled birds have gotten to used to easy meals at the docks.
"The shrimping season will start again, the lazy birds will go back to what they do, if they made it through the winter," said Lee.
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