An enormous vulture in distress fell into the sea in Crete, but was lucky to be rescued by an unsuspecting beachgoer who kept his cool and saved the wild bird from drowning.
The incident, which took place at Goudouras Beach, near the town of Sitia, southeastern Crete, was described on the Facebook page Sitia on line.
Vulture named after rescuer
The wild bird with a 2.5 m wingspan was identified as a Eurasian griffon vulture.
It had been spotted on an isolated part of Goudouras Beach by local animal welfare activists operating in the area on Friday evening, who were alerted as the bird appeared to be weak and fragile.
The activists unsuccessfully attempted to catch it for treatment four times the following day, but soon their fears became real and the distressed bird ended up in the sea.
Without a second thought, a beachgoer who saw the vulture fighting to save itself from drowning jumped into the sea to its rescue, while the entire beach watched the scene unfold in amazement.
“It was very emotional for all of us and we spontaneously applauded the man, Mathios Petroulakis” said the post’s author, Nikos Marakis.
“Onlookers were interested to know exactly what had happened, as it is not usual to see a vulture with a wingspan of 2.5 meters fall from the sky while you are lying on the beach,” he added.
As animal welfare activists took over to treat the vulture, they gave the bird the traditional Cretan name Mathios, after its rescuer.
Vultures in distress falling from the sky
The rescued bird was washed with fresh water, checked for injuries and parasites, and fed with an isotonic solution to help it rehydrate. Anti-parasitic medication was donated by a local pharmacy.
The post went on to explain that it is not unusual to see vultures fall on beaches, in courtyards, terraces or greenhouses this time of year.
“These birds were born in January or February. They are immature and have so far failed to join a herd, resulting in them “falling” everywhere,” they explain.
If they go untreated, they are at risk of injuries, starvation, and other harm.
This is why the rescued vulture from Goudouras Beach, Mathios, will be hosted at a safe shelter for the next 4 or 5 months, before it can be released into its natural environment.