The dangers of coastal birding

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: The dangers of coastal birding
From: knightl <>
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 18:23:11 +1000
I haven't heard the conclusion of this unfortunate piece of news which illustrates the dangers of birding in areas subject to large waves. the dangers of rock fishing is are well known [and another fatal incident in WA over the w/e], but this story appears to be somewhat freakish - a wave apparently washing over a saddle 40 metres high. April does seem to be a bit late for 'peak nesting time', but I guess gannets and albatross may have extended nesting periods.

Regards, Laurie.


One lost, three saved in Southern Ocean ordeal
Date: April 17 2003

By Andrew Darby

A marine biologist is presumed dead after being swept off a remote rock island in the Southern Ocean by a massive wave.

Three other wildlife researchers on Pedra Branca island were winched to safety by a helicopter in 30-knot winds after wild weather hit the island about 14 nautical miles below Tasmania's south-east tip.

A search yesterday found no trace of 26-year-old New Zealander Hamish Saunders.

Police said the four men had retreated up the rocks on the island as the intensity of the waves increased on Tuesday. A buoy off Tasmania's west coast recorded an 11-metre swell.

Mr Saunders, wearing wet-weather gear, but no lifejacket, was caught when a wave washed over a saddle 40 metres high, casting him down the rock face and into foaming water.

The three survivors clung to the spine of the island as swells crashed on to the rock for more than an hour before using a digital phone to contact police.

"It must have been absolutely terrifying," police commander Bob Fielding said.

The men were conducting an annual survey on the island for the Tasmanian Government at a peak nesting time for birds.

The researchers were taken to Pedra Branca in calm weather by a police launch on April 10 for what was to be a five-day stay. But department secretary Kim Evans said they stayed longer because the weather made it too difficult to get off.

Mr Evans said about 1000 seabirds nesting on the island, mainly Australasian gannets and shy albatross, were also hit by the waves. Many would have had fledging chicks.

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