CD 157: Investigating the submarine canyons off Portugal


Pete the Pigeon

On the morning of the 3rd of June RRS Charles Darwin received an unexpected visit. Being located 120 km west of Lisbon it was a surprise to everyone to watch a pigeon approaching the ship and landing on Martin’s (chief engineer) shoulder. It seemed exhausted and took refugee in the monkey’s island (this is the highest area on the ship).

This is Martin on the right.

The pigeon was not only worn out but also had oil all over his feet (can you see it in the photo?). The first thing was to give him some fresh water and after that, Russell and Emma cleaned the oil off using soapy water. Russell who’s a keen bird watcher arranged its accommodation in a box and feed it some welcomed bread. After this Pete was left to rest in a quiet spot.

Pete the Pigeon had very oily feet when he arrived...

...which Russell washed in soapy water...

...and then fed him some tasty bread!

The first hours are the most critical but he's got through them and seems to be making a full recovery!

Pete is a racing pigeon and has a ring on its leg (number GB (03) N67916), it also has a printed telephone number on its wing with the code 01270 that corresponds to the area of northwest England; we decided to use the satellite phone to call its owner and tell him about Pete’s whereabouts.

 His owner informed us the pigeon was released two weeks ago in Cherbourg. He was shocked to hear where he’d ended up; apparently he lost another pigeon in Portugal 10 years ago. Russell updated the owner with the pigeons development; he’s doing well and we will keep him with us till we dock in Vigo the 13th of June, if possible it will then be transported in a truck to Calais and released in the UK so it can be reunited with his owner.

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April 2004
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