Shortail Shearwater Migration Rescue

A submission for National Geographic on behalf of VicRoads.

Nature has always inspired me. Between trees, mountains, the beauty of lakes and our vast open oceans, the world we live in is truly spectacular. The way that life exists in both flora and fauna, with some animals never venturing more than a few km from where they were born, to animals like the Short-tailed Shearwater that migrates annually from the nests in Philip Island, Victoria, to islands of the coast of Alaska in the northern hemisphere. The fledglings' journey involves a 16,000km flight unassisted, as the adults from the colony usually leave several weeks prior.

The great migration is quite literally a life or death situation. The birds make temporary home in burrows along the dunes on the coast of Philip Island, awaiting the perfect wind conditions in March to assist them take flight and begin their journey to the other side of the planet. This is where VicRoads come in, as a large percentage of the birds attempts are unsuccessful, sending them into the paths of oncoming cars and traffic along the roads around the island. 

Fortunately the non-stop work of both the 'Shearwater Rescue Patrol' and their volunteers, who spend sleepless nights patrolling the roads help prevent shearwater casualties by rescuing the failed attempts and releasing the captured birds on the dunes away from immediate traffic risks.

Due to the birds sensitivity to light, no flash photography was permitted, and only dull and excessively warm/amber lighting could be used to capture this annual event.


Completed on behalf of The View From Here.