An astounded scuba diver has told how he rescued a terrified possum clinging to a mooring buoy in a busy sea harbour.
The strictly landlubber marsupial is normally more at home in the Australian bush and forests.
But these cute images show the possum hugging a buoy in the Tasman Sea before being rescued by the Aussie authorities.
The rescue took place at Mornington Peninsula, in the Australian state of Victoria, last week.
Rescuer Luke English, who operates the RedBoats scuba diving business in the town of Portsea, said: “That was the first and last possum I will ever see on a mooring in Portsea.”
He added: “It was hilarious.”
Mr English, who has rescued people and animals stranded at sea in the past, said he was approached by a local resident about the trapped possum at sea.
He remarked: “I just see that much unusual stuff, I said ‘yep, where is it?'”
The scuba instructor, who has rescued pet dogs and stranded penguins in the past, went out to sea on a boat with two rangers from Whitecliffs Foreshore Reserve.
The rescue team headed to the possum’s location on the mooring close to the pier.
Mr English slowly drifted the boat towards the animal, but it became frightened and jumped from the buoy into water.
However, the two rangers were on hand with a fishing net to capture the possum and bring it to safety.
The animal was checked by a vet on dry land and was later released into the wild after being deemed fit and healthy.
According to the rescue team, the possum was probably nesting on a boat and panicked when it started sailing to sea, jumping into the water and clinging to the buoy.
Whitecliffs Foreshore Reserve said in a statement: “Early this morning rangers responded to an unusual report of a Brushtail Possum clinging to a mooring buoy just off Portsea Pier.
“Luckily upon arrival the surfboards & wetsuits weren’t needed as Luke from RedBoats was happy to assist the boys in their rescue. Whilst understandably confused, the possum appeared to be healthy and was able to be scooped up into the net and taken aboard.
“Once back on dry land the possum was assessed and deemed to be healthy, allowing it to be later released at dusk (on land, not back into the water) near where it was rescued.”
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Story By: Lee Bullen, Sub-Editor: William McGee, Agency: Newsflash
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