In this series of posts, she describes a unique resupply mission to help rescued African penguin chicks being hand-raised in Namibia. Read Part 1, which ended with the rehabilitation team asking for help getting food for the young chicks in their care.
Oh no, what a predicament. It takes eight hours by boat to reach Mercury Island from the small harbor town of Lüderitz; there is no way we could find a boat willing to take a few boxes of frozen sardine that far and at such short notice. Never mind that it would cost an arm and a leg. And getting there by land through the extensive dune fields is definitely not an option either.
|Where the Namib meets the sea: much of the coast between Lüderitz and Mercury Island |
consists of massive dune fields | Photo: Jessica Kemper
“Listen Joan, don’t panic just yet. Let me think about it; I’ll give you a radio-call in an hour—over and out.”
Well, at least it is one of these rare days with perfect weather. No howling wind, no fog. I phone my friend Gino - a conservationist and keen aviator - and discuss my (admittedly rather bizarre) idea of doing a “Mercury-Island-fly-past-sardine-drop” with him. I know it’s a long shot, but Gino is enthusiastic and we immediately start planning our airdrop mission. I call Joan and Rian; they are excited but not entirely convinced that this would work. Two hours later we are in the air in Gino’s bright yellow two-seater Citabria. I am firmly wedged into the narrow back seat, balancing five parcels made of tightly wrapped frozen sardine on my lap. Nearly an hour after take-off we can see the island, and as we get closer we spot Joan and Rian waving from the balcony of their house.
|The house on Mercury: there is only one house on Mercury Island. Freshwater and other |
supplies are brought there by boat | Photo: Jessica Kemper
Stay tuned to for the conclusion to this series of posts: The day it rained sardines in Namibia!