Hard to swallow
We often talk about the dangers of feeding crocs, but what about the consequences of feeding other wildlife?
Feeding pelicans or other seabirds fish scraps is a common act, one generally seen as harmless. But the result is that the bird then expects to be fed and will often follow fisherman waiting for scraps. If they can't find someone offering hand outs, they may seek out floating filleted fish that was discarded in the water, seeing it as an easy meal.
The danger lies in how the birds usually hunt and eat. Whatever prey they catch gets swallowed whole, but when they try to swallow a filleted fish that’s lacking the smooth edges and has bones protruding out everywhere, it can cause significant damage. Best case scenario is the fillet causes cuts and abrasions as it’s swallowed, worst case is the fillet gets stuck, choking the animal or even puncturing holes in the throat, both of which can lead to a slow, agonizing death.
Luckily we were alerted to this fella in the nick of time who had a large fillet well and truly stuck in his throat. We managed to remove the fillet carefully, but his breathing, and his voice in particular don’t sound great leading us to believe his throat has been damaged which could cause infection. He’ll spend the night with us and then tomorrow he’ll be heading to Belize Bird Rescue so he can be checked out properly. Please dispose of fish scraps properly, ideally in a sealed garbage bin, so the native wildlife doesn’t become an unintended victim of improperly disposed of waste.