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22 May 2014

Victoria’s marine wildlife had more help on hand than ever before this summer, with the newly-established AGL Marine Response Unit saving five seals from potentially fatal entanglement and assisting with more than 200 calls about marine wildlife in trouble.

The AGL Marine Response Unit operates out of Melbourne Zoo’s Veterinary Department, and Head Veterinarian Dr. Michael Lynch emphasises the significance of establishing Victoria’s first centralised point for marine wildlife welfare calls.

The AGL Marine Response Unit has responded directly in some of the 200+ cases and in other cases have coordinated a response through a stakeholder network including wildlife carers, local councils, and colleagues in Parks Victoria and DEPI.

Wild Sea Keeper and AGL Marine Response Unit Coordinator Mark Keenan described the results as very positive for Victorian marine wildlife.

‘To be able to respond to so many calls for assistance in our first season has been terrific. 

A lot of the time animals may have just come up on shore to rest, and we worked with local community groups to keep an eye on them until they could return safely to the water.

‘We were able to save five seals from entanglement, but unfortunately there were also a number of cases involving entangled, sick, or injured seals that couldn’t be saved,’ he said.

Spring and summer tend to be the busiest season for marine wildlife rescue calls, as that is the time of year when yearling seals are forced to become fully independent from their mothers, who give birth again in November/December.

Mark Brownfield, AGL General Manager Marketing and Retail Sales, said AGL was proud to have partnered with Zoos Victoria to establish the State’s first dedicated marine response unit.

“In its first year the AGL Marine Response Unit has saved five seals from entanglement, responded to over 200 calls for assistance, and engaged community groups and local residents to help care for and monitor Victoria’s marine wildlife. This is a great result,” said Mr Brownfield.

AGL is a platinum partner of Zoos Victoria and the major supporter of the AGL Marine Response Unit, which is also supported by the Victorian Government and Future Fish.

For more information on the funding, see Channel Nine News report.

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