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Gannets tangled in fishing netting successfully rescued with HM Coastguard

Scottish SPCA officer Lynn Cruickshank with members of the coastguard

We recently successfully rescued two gannets with the help of HM Coastguard after the birds became dangerously tangled in discarded fishing netting.

We were alerted to the birds on 31 May after they were spotted on the shore at Burghead, Moray.

 Scottish SPCA animal rescue officer, Lynn Cruickshank, said: “When I arrived I could see the gannets’ beaks were stuck together but when I got close enough one got up and dragged the other one into the sea. They both swam off but, as they were still stuck together, the birds were struggling to swim. 

“I decided to call the coastguard to see if they would be willing to attend and give me some assistance as I was worried that they would drown as they fought to get away from each other.

“The local team from Burghead Coastguard were happy to attend and arrived a short time after.

“We managed to get them on to the beach and I caught the birds with my net and wrapped them both in a towel, took control of the beaks and members of the coastguard team tried to cut them free.

close up of two gannets' beaks tangled together in fishing netting

“The gannets were badly tangled in the discarded fishing netting. We started by separating them, then worked on getting their beaks free. It wasn’t as easy as we initially hoped it would be, as the net was really tight and we didn’t want to damage their beaks.

“Thankfully, we eventually managed to free the birds and I gave them a good check over. Apart from being a bit tired the gannets were fine, so I released them straight away, they both swam off and we all had a cheer!

“It was a brilliant outcome and I’m so grateful to the coastguard for their help. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, so their assistance was much appreciated.”

Colin Wood, Senior Coastal Operations Officer in Northeast Scotland, said: “It was a slightly different call-out for us than normal, but we were glad to be able to help our colleagues from the Scottish SPCA on this rescue.

“Although our primary focus is on keeping people safe at the coast, most of us are also animal lovers and will always step in to help if we can.

“I had never been that up close to a gannet either, so it was interesting on a personal level – and sad to see the animal wrapped up in the netting.

“We would remind people not to put themselves in harm’s way if they do see an animal in distress, but to report it to the relevant authority immediately.

“If you see a person in distress at the coast, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

If anyone finds an injured animal, or an animal in distress, contact the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.




If anyone is concerned about an animal, please do not hesitate to contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

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