Sick pelicans nursed back to health to be released

Sick pelicans are healthy again and scheduled for release in St. Petersburg Thursday.

Wildlife rehab organizations stepped in to rescue and place at least 30 pelicans on January 16.

More than a dozen of the birds became sick in Coffee Pot Bayou, prompting the City of St. Petersburg to take a closer look.

Rescuers described the birds as weak and lethargic, with half suffering from blinding cataracts.

Early water quality tests came back normal for Coffee Pot Bayou. The results could not explain what caused the mystery illness.

Workers have since removed warning signs urging people to stay out of the water as biologists search for the answer to the pelican sickness.
Birds that did not survive have been sent to labs for examination. Scientists want to learn more information about how and why those birds died.

According to a media release published January 20, officials with the City of St. Pete said results from the testing could be ready by this week. Results of testing for red tide and algae-related illness could also become available soon.

Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife received some of the pelicans requiring treatment. The licensed rehab facility is expected to release the surviving birds at North Shore Park at 5 p.m. Thursday January 26, 2017.

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