South West Wales

Birds trapped in debris on Pembrokeshire island freed

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Media captionMany gannets have already died as a result of getting caught up in the debris

Specialists and volunteers have freed dozens of birds trapped in ropes and nets on an island off Pembrokeshire.

Grassholm Island is home to almost 40,000 breeding pairs of northern gannets, making it one of the most important colonies in the world.

The birds are prone to getting tangled in marine waste such as discarded fishing lines and nets.

RSPB warden Lisa Morgan said: "If we left them here, they would simply starve to death."

Mrs Morgan and her husband Greg are the bird charity's wardens for the island and they, along with a team, made a special trip to cut free 50 juvenile and adult gannets.

It is believed the birds mistake the synthetic rope for their usual nesting material such as seaweed.

Two had to have a leg amputated because the damage caused by the rope was so severe.

Mrs Morgan said: "We don't know whether gannets are able to survive in the wild with only one leg, but at least we are giving them a second chance."

The island is littered with dead birds but, according to the RSPB, the level of mortality caused by marine litter on Grassholm is unlikely to have an impact on the gannet population as a whole.

However, it is not known how many birds leave the island with debris on them and die out at sea.

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