First Class Travel

On a voyage south from Alaska, the cruise ship Diamond Princess gained a stow-away in the form of a Cassin’s auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus). Despite the best efforts of the crew to persuade the seabird to fly away, and attempts by passengers to feed it cupcakes, it grew attached to its new home and spent several days on the ship before it docked in Vancouver.

The young bird was finally forced to disembark in a cardboard box and he was driven to the WRA. The auklet had no injuries, it was able to feed itself and its feathers were in good condition. The bird just needed a day or two to recover and a good meal before release.

However, auklets live on remote islands and rarely come into contact with civilization let alone interact with humans. When collected from its enclosure the auklet often hid away and staff took extra care to ensure its stress levels were kept to a minimum during its stay.

Because Cassin’s auklets are usually found on offshore islands along the BC coast and are rarely seen at the WRA, getting the bird to a suitable release site was going to be tricky. Luckily, staff were able to call on the services of helicopter pilot Norm Snihur who runs a volunteer wildlife rescue and transport service for numerous rehabilitation centres around BC.

Norm picked the bird up from Burnaby Lake and flew it to BC SPCA’s Wild ARC facility in Metchosin on Vancouver Island. From there the auklet was released a few days later off Tower Point in the Juan de Fuca Strait – an over wintering site for large flocks of Cassin’s auklets.

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