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June 16, 2005
Injured swan rescued with the help of hovercraft group’s inshore lifeboat

Burnham-On-Sea’s hovercraft crew performed one of their most unusual rescues on Thursday (June 16) when they helped animal experts capture an injured swan at a local lake.

The bird had been spotted in a distressed state by a walker at Apex Leisure Park after swallowing a fishing hook and several inches of line.

When staff from Highbridge-based Secret World Wildlife Rescue Centre made several failed attempts to capture it from the shoreline, it was suggested they call out the hovercraft group’s inshore rescue boat to get closer.

So a crew of three from BARB, the group that runs Burnham’s hovercraft, was called to the scene to launch their boat from the slipway.

With Secret World’s Simon Kidner onboard, the boat was led on a 20-minute chase around the lake as the swan initially out-manoeuvred the rescuers, but it was eventually captured using a special net.

“Without the rescue boat it would have been impossible to capture,” said Simon.

“We’d tried getting it twice earlier in the day and had been unsuccessful because we couldn’t get close enough.”

The injured bird was taken back to the Apex slipway before being driven to Secret World’s rescue centre for treatment. Very sadly, the animal died the following day, on Friday 17 June.

The injured swan with fishing line hanging from its mouthSimon added: “Swans often feed off the bottom of lakes and pick up anything that’s there. Unfortunately, this sometimes means they swallow whole fishing hooks and lengths of line, as in this case.”

This is not the first time the hovercraft team have been involved in rescuing animals. In July 2004 they rescued two dogs from the mud at Brean.

Indeed, Alan Miller, chairman of BARB, said: “If we don’t go to the aid of animals, there’s often a risk that a human will enter the water to try carrying out the rescue themselves. This can quickly turn into a tragedy.”

“Providing that we’re not jeopardising the rescue of a human elsewhere, we’ll always help. We’re here to provide a rescue service.”


Secret World Wildlife Centre

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