Red Tide Poisoning Endangers A Laughing Gull

The following story was shared by the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW).

laughing gull on rocksAn adult laughing gull, weighing 0.51 pounds (230 grams), was brought to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) in Sanibel Island, Florida, on November 22, 2018 after being found bobbing in the water near the Captiva shoreline. He was unable to fly and was soaking wet.

During the initial exam the patient exhibited signs of brevetoxicosis (red tide poisoning), which included ataxia, moderate paraparesis, and mild head tremors. The gull received 5% body weight subcutaneous fluids, had blood drawn, and had radiographs taken to further assess any issues that were not obvious on physical exam. The gull was set up in a cage with a towel nest and left to rest with a heat lamp.

The blood work and radiographs were found to be within normal limits. A treatment plan was made which included monitoring for melena (partly digested blood in the feces), administering antacids, and gavage-feeding a liquid diet of EmerAid Intensive Care Piscivore.

The patient received two feeds the first day. By the second day, he was standing and walking around. The bird was moved out of the Intensive Care Unit two days later and placed in an outdoor enclosure for flight conditioning. He showed signs of improvement while outside, including flying from one side of the enclosure to the other and eating consistently on his own. The patient was released back to the wild a few days later at a weight of 0.54 pounds (245 grams).