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Bridlington cliff rescue


12:09pm 28th June 2011

Four RSPCA officers undertook an amazing rescue on Wednesday 22nd June when they saved a gannet which was hanging vertically from its beak against a sheer cliff face in Bridlington.

The RSPCA was called about the bird on Wednesday afternoon and just a few hours later the four officers were carrying out the daunting rescue mission at Bempton Cliffs Nature Reserve.

Inspector Geoff Edmond was first on the scene and realised that the gannet was still alive, but was dangling from the 400ft cliff.

He called in members of the RSPCA rope rescue team, inspectors Trevor Walker and Tony Jackman and animal collection officer (ACO) Dave Dawson, who are specially trained to rescue animals from areas like mountain and cliff sides, to help.

The gannet was hanging from a piece of line which had become caught around its beak.

Inspector Edmond explained:

“Gannets build their nests from seaweed but are also attracted to other materials such as fishing line and pieces of fishing net and nylon rope.

“On this occasion a piece of nylon rope had unravelled and became stuck around the gannet’s lower beak, so as soon as the bird went to fly away it became suspended from the line which was still attached to the nest.”

The three rope rescue officers travelled from the Newcastle area to save the gannet and the rescue attempt got underway at 6.30pm.

Inspector Walker abseiled down the cliff and spent 45 minutes hanging above the water whilst trying to find a line of descent which was close enough for him to reach the bird.

Unfortunately, they realised that inspector Walker would be unable to reach the bird and he had to be hand-winched back to the cliff top.

Another attempt at 9.15pm by inspector Jackman was successful and the bird was carried up to safety.

Inspector Edmond later took the gannet to a vet after removing the line and amazingly the bird was healthy and well. It was released on the cliff top the next day.

Rope training team leader inspector Walker said:

“This was the first specialist rope rescue carried out by our team and I am so pleased that it went well.

“The gannet had been hanging by its beak for more than 10 hours and it’s fantastic that it survived and was released. It was a long rescue attempt in the end but was more than worth it to see the bird being carried over the cliff top to safety.

“I can’t praise the rest of the officers enough. It was very precarious but the success was down to us working together as a team and we felt absolutely euphoric to have rescued the bird.”

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