11 veterinary students from University of Sydney attended DMR last week as part of their extramural placements to gain some experience in aquatic animal medicine.
“There are not many places where students can get hands on experience with marine animals, so these placements are really important to build the capacity within the profession to treat sick and injured marine animals,” said Dr Duan March, who acted as the students supervisor for the week. “The placements actually work out really well. We will stockpile work that needs to be done for a number of research projects before the students arrive and get it all done when they are here. This means that they get to learn and it helps us out with our research!” said Dr March.
Veterinary students are required to do a range of placements during their degrees and students will get practical experience with all animals from cows to chickens, and for a lucky few, dolphins as well!
DMRART has recently release a Southern Giant Petrel back into the wild following a rehabilitation stint at Dolphin Marine Rescue. The Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus) is the largest petrel species and is found throughout the Southern Ocean. The population is estimated to have declined by around 20% in the last 50 years, with a population estimate today of around 60,000 birds.
The Giant Southern Petrel appears uncoordinated on land and has a distinctive smell, which has led it being described as a“ungainly brown albatross” and a “stinkpot”! However don’t let the ungainly appearance fool you, the Giant Southern Petrel can be a ferocious predator, and will prey on other sea birds including penguins. The petrel is one of a group of sea birds know as tube-nose birds, due to the single large nostril tube on top of its bill which is connected to a slat gland that allows them to removed excessive amounts of salt from sea water.
In May we got a call from an Armidale resident who had found a bird that they suspected to be a marine species, they kindly drove down to Coffs Harbour to our rehabilitation hospital for assessment and care. When our staff member Greg assessed the bird it turned out to be a Tropic bird most likely from a colony off Lord Howe island. How this bird found itself in Armidale we are unsure but it could have been due to heavy winds or storm. The Tropic bird was a juvenile so did not have its long tail yet but was believed to be a red tailed tropic bird.
It stayed with Dolphin Marine Rescue (DMR) for a week, during its time in care it was offered water and spark which aids in re-hydration and some tasty fish. Before the bird was released an assessment was conducted which included a body examination and flight test, it was given the all clear from our veterinary team and DMR staff and was successfully released. Thank you to those members of public for caring for this bird and taking the time to bring it into Dolphin Marine Rescues care.