ECUA Bayou Marcus Water Reclamation Facility Employees Save Brown Pelican

Pelican Rescue

On Monday, January 24, 2011, Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) employees made an unusual lifesaving rescue at the Bayou Marcus Water Reclamation Facility (BMWRF) in West Pensacola.  As the sun began to set, Plant Manager Steve Woods, and Wastewater Operator Ervin Busche, made an unusual discovery, a 7 month old brown female pelican, later given the nickname Eva, had become trapped in a “thickener tank.”  Busche said, “The bird landed in the worst possible tank, as it contained thick brown mousse, which prevented it from flying.”

The ECUA staff; including wastewater operators and mechanics, began the rescue effort manning a boom truck, complete with a “man basket.” As darkness and colder temperatures became a factor, Woods and Shawn Ward were lowered into the tank, dressed in protective gear, and safety harnesses. Using a stream of water, they maneuvered the pelican toward the basket where it was then lifted to safety. Woods added, “The pelican was immersed in dark brown goo, her feathers and eyes were drenched in the sludge, and offered no resistance as it was completely exhausted.”

The bird was washed on-site at Bayou Marcus then transported to the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida. Director Dorothy Kaufmann says, “Eva was covered in contaminates and unable to fly. She was treated in our hospital and eventually diagnosed with no physical injuries. Eva wouldn’t have survived in her condition without the lifesaving effort of the ECUA Bayou Marcus employees, they are real heroes.”

Eva was released on Valentine’s Day, Monday, February 14, 2011.

The Wildlife Sanctuary is a non-profit organization based in Pensacola, that works to provide appropriate care to injured or orphaned indigenous wildlife. The facility receives injured or orphaned wildlife, provides medical care and fostering during recovery, and rehabilitates and releases wildlife, if possible. It works in cooperation with local, state, and federal wildlife agencies, providing educational outreach programs.