On Sunday, June 28, the Newport Legacy boat set sail on a dolphin and whale-watching excursion at 10 a.m. out of Davey’s Locker Whale Watching in Newport.
Local whale watching boats are now allowed to take passengers to observe marine life in accordance with CDC guidelines.
On the way out into the harbor, there was a large gathering of birds and dolphins that were engaged in a feeding frenzy.
Dozens of marine mammals and sea birds were feasting on an enormous bait ball filled with thousands of sardines or anchovies just below the surface of the water.
As the passengers watched the spectacle, someone noticed an injured bird flailing its wings in the water.
Capt. Tiffani Worley acted and slowly positioned the boat to retrieve the bird.
Crew members Matt Hayashi and Dani Fasser went to the bow of the boat to assess the situation.
Fasser tried to bring the bird into a bag that was tied to a long pole. That attempt was unsuccessful.
Hayashi grabbed the lid of garbage can and leaned out over the water to work the bird onto the lid. He was successful.
Once on the boat, Hayashi and a passenger folded a box and put sheets of paper towels in it for bedding.
The bird, an elegant tern, was carefully placed in the box to be transported once the boat returned to the dock.
The passengers applauded the skipper and crew for rescuing the floundering bird and being good stewards of the sea.
One of the passengers on the boat was Daryth Morrissey, president on the Board of the American Cetacean Society in Orange County.
Daryth is also a volunteer naturalist on the Legacy who provides information to passengers about whales and other marine life.
According to Jessica Roame, head of marine education at Davey’s Locker Whale Watching, Daryth planned to take the injured tern to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center (WWCC) in Huntington Beach.
According to Roame, Davey’s Locker Whale Watching and the WWCC have worked collaboratively to release rehabilitated pelagic birds that needed to be relocated far out to sea. Davey’s Locker assists by allowing the WWCC access to their boats.
“Our crew showed empathy and caring for getting the distressed tern out of the water,” said Roame. “We teach conservation at Davy’s Locker, and we try to educate the public about whales, dolphins, sea lions and the birds that live here.”
Roame said that the boat captains look for terns or pelicans that dive into the water.
This is usually an indication that there might be whales feeding close by.
“I believe this was a memorable trip for our passengers and crew,” said Roame.
“That was a remarkable rescue,” said Karen Correa. “The captain turned the boat so the guy could get the bird in the garbage can lid. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Roame offered anyone that is interested in going whale watching at Davy’s Locker a discount.
“Use promo code open50 on any whale watching tour through Davey’s Locker and Newport Whale Watching,” said Roame. “We’d love to see you aboard.”
A follow-up phone call revealed that the injured elegant tern had to be euthanized because of the traumatic injuries it sustained during the feeding frenzy.
Rehabilitation was not going to be an option, according to Roame.
“It was a sad ending to a great rescue,” said Roame. “It is always hard to determine how injured an animal is when it is floating in the water.”