HUNT FOR THE PINK FLAMINGO: How the most bizarre rescue saga ever, captivated a nation

HUNT FOR THE PINK FLAMINGO: How the most bizarre rescue saga ever, captivated a nation

By Kunal Dey

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA: In one of the most bizarre rescues ever recorded, a group of lifeguards brought a wayward giant flamingo to safety. A group of five friends took a 16ft-wide inflatable out to sea on Australia Day and had to be towed back to Stanwell Park Beach in a light-hearted rescue.

The unconventional boat, which reportedly cost $700, was slowly drifting towards sharp rocks when surfing lifeguards realized it needed to be rescued. Blake and Kyle Lisk, who invested in the unusual craft, were joined by their friends Mitch Loveday, Tye Barnes and Jayden Raval for the expedition. The group later admitted they had gone out a bit further into the sea than originally intended.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Blake, of Wollongong, said that he and his friends used swimming fins to propel the giant flamingo past mounting waves. At some point, the group decided the shark buoy was a rather cool mooring spot. “We kicked out with the westerly wind and we got one kilometer out with the shark buoy,” the 24-year-old told the outlet, adding, “We hung out there for a bit but didn’t see any sharks, unfortunately.” Dubbed HMAS Flamingo, the flashy inflatable was purchased by Blake and Kyle when the brothers were “bored out of our brain” during the Covis-19 pandemic lockdowns. “It was pretty expensive – about $700 – so Kyle and I went halves but we never took it out of the box until the public holiday after Mitch called and asked if we still had the flamingo,” Blake recalled.

The floatable, measuring 16ft wide and and nine-feet high, ultimately proved to be a steady hangout at sea where the friends could enjoy a beer, some cheese and biscuits. The group was apparently so cozy on the flamingo that they declined an offer to be towed back to shore by a police boat. However, as the wind picked up, the blow-up boat began to head south faster than lifesavers anticipated and saw it was headed for the rocks. The first attempt to tow the flamingo back to shore failed, before the boys were ferried back on jet skis, and the inflatable was brought in later. “If you were at the beach yesterday morning, you would have caught a glimpse of this now infamous giant flamingo heading south quicker than we believe they anticipated,” the Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Surf Life Saving Club explained in a post on Facebook.

However, Blake maintained they were in control of the situation. “The original (and executed) plan was to float out from Stanwell Park to the Shark Buoy, then to have the NE wind pick up and push us to Coalcliff (beach),” he said. Nonetheless, surf lifesaver Rob Deakin noted that the rescue was “preventative” and one of 72 rescues that were made on a busy day. Be that as it may, Blake insisted the voyage was an “excellent exhibition” and that the group was considering purchasing an even bigger inflatable for another “adventure” out in the sea.


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