Rare pelican spotted by cruise-goers chilling in waters at northeast S'pore


Ashley Tan | February 05, 2021, 12:56 PM

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You might have seen a pelican before at the Jurong Bird Park.

Some rather lucky people however, recently managed to catch a glimpse of the large water bird in the wild.

Pelican bobbing in the water

A Facebook post by outdoor interest group Singapore Adventurous Nature-Lovers shared the serendipitous sighting, which took place on Jan. 31.

Passengers aboard their mini sunset cruise saw the bird bobbing in the waters off the northeast part of the island.

According to the post's caption, the boat's captain said this was his first time seeing a pelican in the wild, despite cruising for "so many years".

In the video, a man behind the camera can be heard saying "This is big, this is big, when [the pelican] landed, it was big."

You can watch the short clip here.

Pelicans in Singapore

Pelicans are not native to Singapore, and individuals spotted are likely to have flown in from other countries or continents.

There are only eight species of pelicans, two of which can be found in South-east Asia — the Great-white Pelican and the Spot-billed pelican.

Pelican sightings in Singapore however, are quite rare.

They have previously been seen at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Kranji Reservoir.

A local birdwatching blog states that other species of pelicans have apparently been sighted at Jurong Lake and Admiralty Park as well.

More about pelicans

Pelicans are large birds with long bills, and the largest species, the Dalmatian pelican, can have a wingspan of up to 3m.

They are most discernible from their throat pouches, which they use to trap and scoop prey out of the water.

The pouch is spacious, and can hold up to 13L of water, and the bird will only swallow its prey after the water has drained out.

Pelicans' pouches and beaks play an important role in mating, and can change colours during the breeding seasons as well.

Top photo from Singapore Adventurous Nature-Lovers / FB