Teamwork leads to rescue and release of swan caught in fishing line at Lewes

Worried residents contacted East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) after spotting a swan on the River Ouse at Lewes with fishing line hanging out of its mouth and attached to fishing weights.

WRAS rescuers Trevor and Kathy with the swan (Photo: Gavin Bruce, BDMLR)
WRAS rescuers Trevor and Kathy with the swan (Photo: Gavin Bruce, BDMLR)

Rescuers attended on site on Monday 22nd but were unable to catch the swan from the bank, so asked British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) if they would help provide a boat for the rescue. As the tide was low, the charities planned a rescue for the morning of Tuesday 23rd April. Overnight the weights came loose and disappeared, but it was clear from the swan's behaviour that there was something wrong.

Alan Knight OBE chairman of BDMLR launched their rescue RIB with the assistance of Medic Gavin Bruce from Newhaven just after 9am and came up to Lewes where it was met by WRAS's Trevor Weeks MBE and fellow rescuers Jayden Banks and Kathy Martyn.

Alan manoeuvred the rescue boat with skill with Trevor positioned at the bow using a swan hook to gently guide the swan between the bank and the pontoons at Lewes Rowing Club where Kathy and Jayden were positioned to catch the swan.

WRAS rescuer Jayden carefully catching the swan with a swan hook (Photo: Gavin Bruce, BDMLR)
WRAS rescuer Jayden carefully catching the swan with a swan hook (Photo: Gavin Bruce, BDMLR)

This was Jayden's first swan rescue and found himself catching the swan using a swan hook and having to pull the swan up onto the pontoon where it was secured. Kathy, Trevor and Gavin quickly joined Jayden on the pontoon.

Trevor checked over the swan and found a piece of line wrapped round the back of the mouth and going down the throat. As it was right at the back of the mouth it was difficult to get to but was eventually dislodged but the swan swallowed the line before it could be removed safely.

The swan was noted to be very pale and a bit underweight and was transported to WRAS's Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith where it was given 24 hours rescue and recuperation before being returned to Lewes the following day Wednesday 24th April.

The swan recovered well overnight and was much more lively, and energetic. Clearly recovered the swan was taken back to the rowing club and released to be back with her mate on the river.

"This is a great example of how groups can work together in a positive way to help each other and the wildlife of East Sussex, BDMLR have specialist knowledge and equipment for such water based rescued and we would have struggled to catch the swan without their help" said Trevor Weeks, "when we released the swan back into the river it was nice to see the pair back together and them flirting with each other forming the classic heart shape with their necks. It's great to see."

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Press Contacts:
Trevor Weeks MBE - 01825-873003 or 07931-523958
Alan Knight OBE - 01825-767688

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