Scillonian III and Skybus come to the rescue of stowaway shrew!
A tiny shrew which was discovered stowed away on-board the Scillonian III has been safely returned to its native homeland on the Isles of Scilly thanks to Skybus.
The minute mammal took an unscheduled trip between St Mary’s and Penzance last week, with a short stay on the mainland with Paul Semmens of The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, before being flown back from Land’s End.
The adventure started when the Scillonian III was about to arrive in Penzance. The two inch shrew was discovered by a member of the crew in a corner of the upper deck, as staff were clearing the area near the gangway.
Paul Semmens, the Trust’s onboard marine guide, identified it as a Scilly Shrew around two months old, a species not found on the British mainland. Confined and unique to the Scillies where it is the only species of shrew present, it is recognised as a subspecies of the Lesser White-toothed Shrew of Europe.
As the shrew could not be released in Cornwall, Paul took it home, hoping to return it the next day. He said, “Shrews have a high metabolic rate, so I had to keep feeding it throughout the night. I gave it a good meal of woodlice, earthworms and cat food and the next morning some meal worms. Luckily our furry stowaway survived the night and we made arrangements to get the shrew repatriated back to the Isles of Scilly via Skybus.”
Following a visit to the Steamship Company offices the next day, arrangements were made for a Trust colleague to collect the shrew to take onto the Skybus, which Paul drove to Land’s End Airport and loaded onto the aircraft.
Angie Gall from the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust was at St Mary’s Airport to meet the shrew off its flight from Penzance. She added, “The little animal was in excellent condition and we successfully released the shrew back into its natural environment. Its survival is a credit to Paul for taking such good care of it during its trip.”
Managers at the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company think it could have been their smallest ever passenger to travel on the Scillonian III and Skybus.
Kevin Ayres from the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company said, “We were just pleased that our plane and ship were able to come to the rescue and repatriation of this little animal and it was returned safely to its rightful home. This just demonstrates the goodwill and effort that our staff put into dealing with all our passengers, whatever their size!”
It is thought the Scilly Shrew may be a relict species present before Scilly became isolated from the continent, while others suggest that shrews were stowaways on boats coming from the Channel Islands and France.
Deborah Clark Associates on behalf of Isles of Scilly Steamship Co.
01208 77900 / 07887 746569
The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust marine guide on board Scillonian III
Marine Conservation Officer for The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company
Notes to Editors (Isles of Scilly Steamship Co):
Isles of Scilly Steamship Company Ltd was formed on 26 March 1920 and the first Scillonian Ship began regular trips to the Isles of Scilly on Thursday 2 February 1926. Since then the company has continually operated the shipping service which is a life line for the Isles of Scilly.
This year will be Scillonian III’s 33rd year of service. The ship was commissioned and built for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company by Appledore Shipbuilders Ltd in Devon with work starting in 1973. She sailed her maiden voyage on 19th May 1977 and since then has become a signature sight of the Islands and a preferred method of travel for many visitors and islanders alike.