When Sustainable Sea Products International (SSPI) and our parent company Global Blue Technologies (GBT) say we are dedicated to helping the environment, it’s not just another example of corporate lip service. Key personnel and their families roll up their sleeves and, often quite literally, dive in to help wild creatures in distress.
The Texas’ Gulf Coast where our state of the art aquaculture campus is located is a haven for exotic resident and migratory birds. Among the feathered creatures common to the area are great blue herons, rose-hued spoonbills, brown and the larger white pelicans, cranes of every sort, ibis, black skimmers, and flights of tiny ruby-throated hummingbirds. And, of course, the skies are filled with ever-present laughing gulls. To mention but a few of the species found throughout the area.
It’s also a prime rest and relaxation center for humans migrating from Canada and a multitude of states to escape severe winters and/or to enjoy nearby beaches and bountiful fishing opportunities.
The confluence of the two migrating groups often results in unfortunate and unintended consequences.
Brown pelicans diving for their fish dinner and Great blue herons patrolling the shoreline, in particular, often become entangled in abandoned fishing line or discover what they thought was a shimmering fish was actually a multi-hooked lure quickly lodged in a throat, a wing or leg. Daredevil gulls misjudge the speed of cars and trucks only to badly damage a wing or leg.
April 2016, a group of dedicated volunteers including SSPI/GBT personnel gathered to create a rescue and rehabilitation organization named Wings Rescue Center (WRC). Within their first year of operation, Wings responded to over five hundred calls and dispatched its growing network of volunteers who captured nearly 400 injured and hobbled birds. SSPI/GBT staff and their families were instrumental in assisting the group in obtaining its tax exempt status, funding administrative issues, and volunteering to respond to dispatch calls throughout the morning and night to locate and capture birds in Texas’ Aransas County.
Thanks to Wings’ President Kay Adams, the group established relationships with two existing animal rehabilitation organizations, one forty miles away in nearby Corpus Christi – the Texas Sealife Center – and one a bit closer but that requires a ferry ride to reach its home in Port Aransas – the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK). Professionals at each diagnose problems with the rescued birds and, where possible, nurse them to the point where they can be released back into the environment. WRC is the only local organization that takes and cares for orphaned baby birds.
Wings Rescue Center also established an educational outreach program with the Aransas County Independent School District birding teams. Under the leadership of their teacher/sponsor Martha McCleod, the teams of 4th through 7th grade students continually earn national ranking in their birding endeavors.
Wings Rescue Center is currently applying for federal and state permits to open its own rehabilitation facility on an acre of wooded land it acquired in Rockport, Texas. The main structure to house and treat birds is almost complete and work has begun on its flight cage.
With on-going participation by SSPI/GBT personnel, Wings Rescue Center hopes to help create similar bird rescue and rehabilitation centers in every country along the Texas Gulf Coast.