A rescue on Earth Day: Pelicans freed during launch of new recycling program

Savannah Chastain
Pelicans entangled in fishing line were freed by Destin Forward members, and two helpful dock workers on Tuesday.

The Destin Forward class of 2014 met on the docks Tuesday to celebrate the completion of their nine-month program and to launch their final project, a set of five monofilament (fishing line) recycling posts. However, no one expected the ironic situation that soon played out.

Just after the group posed for a ribbon cutting photo, two pelicans swam by snarled by fishing line and a hook.

“It’s just so ironic,” said Suzy Nicholson Hunt, events coordinator for the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce. “Its come full circle.”

Destin Forward members, Alison McDowell, Monica Albarello, and William Hatfield sprung into action, locating the trapped birds and requesting the help of deckhand Kyle Guthery and fish photographer Jake Brashears. After Brashears lured the entangled birds out of the water with a piece of fish, McDowell and Albarello soothed the birds while Guthery used pliers to clip them free.

After the excitement, the class regrouped and discussed just how meaningful their new program is to the Destin area.

“We chose the monofilament recycling program because we wanted a long-lasting meaningful impact on the community,” said Destin Forward member, Vanessa Wolny. “We thought it was a good idea because it would really impact the fishing industry, the tourist industry, and the environment. It really does bring it back to the Destin community — we are a beach community.”

“It was a rescue on Earth Day,” said Hunt. “That’s just amazing itself.”