Santa Barbara Maritime Museum Historic Ship Volunteers Save Hooked Cormorant

Fast Action on the Part of Ranger’s Crew Kept Unlucky Bird Alive

On August 11, a typical outing on the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s historic Ranger boat became like a scene out of an exotic animal rescue documentary when a black cormorant flew onto the deck with a fishhook stuck in its beak.

Joan Reis

Three volunteer crewmembers, along with passengers, quickly stepped into action to assist the injured animal as the ship cruised past Summerland Beach.

Click to enlarge photo

Joan Reis

According to Ranger Cruise Coordinator Bill Weber, who witnessed the scene, the bird, “had a large fishhook in the corner of his mouth attached to about eight inches of heavy line with a swivel at the end.”

Surprisingly, the bird didn’t fly away from the people on the boat, instead sensing that they could somehow help him, according to Weber. Ranger crewmembers and passengers quickly helped the bird out of its predicament.

Click to enlarge photo

Joan Reis

“[The bird] actually walked over to me on top the wheelhouse. I grabbed him and constrained his wings while one of the passengers, Pete Schulte, cut the hook off,” said Weber.

The cormorant then stayed on Ranger all the way back to Stearns Wharf, where he flew off to join some of his friends in the water.

This remarkable event showed, once again, how integral the connection is between man and sea life, something that the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum tries to emphasize in its mission, educational displays and exhibits.

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