Antarctic fulmar found in Halls Head returns home after rescue effort

A southern fulmar found on the Halls Head canals has been given a second chance at life after being nursed back to health by volunteers from the state's Seabird Rescue group.

The seabird was released in Albany earlier this week with another discovered in a retirement village in Australind.

They were among five to be found more than 5,000 kilometres from their home in Antarctica, but were the only ones to survive.

Western Australian Seabird Rescue spokesperson Fiona O'Sullivan said the birds' recovery had been a month-long process, having been exhausted, weak and underweight when they came into care.

"These fulmars, their minimum weight is typically around 700 grams," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"A couple of the fulmars that have come in have only weighed about 430 grams, which is a lot less than what they need to be.

"They came into care, thanks to a very experienced carer in Baldivis.

"Initially, we only feed them fluids to rehydrate them and then we gradually reintroduce foods to help building up their strength.

"I transported the birds to our experienced carer in Albany and she continued their care until they were both released."

Southern fulmars typically breed in colonies on the Antarctic Peninsula, moving north during the winter months away from the pack ice.

Ms O'Sullivan said it was very unusual to see the birds in WA, and even more unusual for the rescue group to have two in its care at the same time.

"They're birds that live out on the ocean and they're from Antarctica, so we very rarely see them," she said.

"I know they've [WASR] had one in the past, but they're an unusual bird to see on land.

"We don't yet know what has brought them further north at this particular time, but there is certainly a lot of discussion about why we're seeing so many.

"We don't know whether it's an event that's brought them further north, an increase in the temperature of the water or they're after a food source.

"After stormy weather, we get a number of seabirds that get beach-washed.

"These birds are blown off course by these strong winds and big storms and many of them are younger and a bit weaker."

The Western Australian Seabird Rescue was established in Mandurah in 2004, founded by an experienced wildlife carer concerned by the number of Pelican entanglements.

Since then, the organisation has grown to consist of up to 60 trained volunteers that cover more than 500 kilometres of coastline between Perth and Albany.

Between the dedicated volunteers, Ms O'Sullivan said the organisation rescued about 400 to 500 birds annually.

The organisation registered as a charity in 2018, fundraising to support the cost of the rescues themselves, including food, transport and veterinary bills.

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