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Victoria’s coastline is almost 2000km long, and that poses a huge challenge when it comes to protecting native marine wildlife.
World Seal Day today was the perfect opportunity for Melbourne Zoo to celebrate the cooperative conservation work protecting Victoria’s seals and other marine wildlife.
This summer was the sixth peak season for the AGL MRU (Marine Response Unit), a team of Wild Sea Keepers and Zoo Veterinarians ready to respond to calls from along Victoria’s coastline.
Victoria’s first-ever dedicated statewide response initiative was launched in 2013, thanks to generous sponsorship from AGL.
That ongoing relationship between AGL and Zoos Victoria has already benefited hundreds of animals found entangled in netting or fishing line or injured by other means.
Today AGL announced an extension of its partnership with Zoos Victoria, including funding of the AGL MRU, which is responding to more calls every year.
During the six years since the AGL MRU was launched, an increasing number of complementary community partnerships have also been formed, which enable the team to respond quickly even to incidents located a long way from the Zoo.
In the case of reports coming from distant parts of Victoria, the AGL MRU team can call on DEWLP Wildlife Officers, Parks Victoria, councils and other community groups to make initial assessments of incidents prior to attending the scene.
The Zoo’s newest conservation partnership, launched today, is with Coastcare, made up of hundreds of volunteers living along the Victorian coast.
Coastcare community groups are coming on board to support the Seal the Loop program, which provides special rubbish bins at popular fishing spots, so broken lines and hooks can be disposed of safely without potentially harming marine wildlife.
Zoo Director Kevin Tanner emphasises the scale of the task: ‘Victoria is blessed with a variety of marine wildlife, and we all want to safeguard it and enjoy it well into the future.
‘Seal the Loop is aimed at preventing further harm to wildlife, and the AGL MRU’s role is to assist individuals that have already been injured, ideally to treat them on the spot or bring them back to the Zoo for rehabilitation and release.’
‘Being such a major challenge, it is fantastic to see the corporate and community sectors sharing the vision of a future shared with our amazing marine wildlife and working together to make it a reality.’