Riggs, as he is now named, a juvenile Grey-headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) turned up on Kingfish B platform in Bass Strait after a cold winter storm recently.
“On July 26 one of the crew reported seeing a bat flying around the platform,” said Kingfish B Installation Manager Colin Densley.
“The bat would land on one of the handrails to rest before taking off again. By Friday it had moved to a location against one of the buildings that was less exposed to the weather and the crew noticed it wasn’t flying around anymore.
“A couple of the crew members were feeding it some fruit. Kiwi fruit, bananas and apples were its favorite.”
Colin said the crew realised that Riggs wasn’t going to be able to the fly 77 kilometres back to shore without help, so they contacted wildlife rescuers.
“They asked us to bring it in, this was quite a challenge to freight the bat back onshore,” he said. “Our night shift operator Dave Fortune made a custom built bat box, using a cardboard box. He constructed a small habitat for the bat to travel in. It even included a rope secured inside for the bat to hang from.”
On August 1, Dave escorted Riggs back to shore in one of Bass Strait’s new air-conditioned AW139 helicopters as hand luggage and then handed him over to the care of a volunteers from Melbourne Bats who delivered him to JABS.
“The platform crew did a really fabulous job rescuing him,” said Julie Malherbe from JABS. “It’s fantastic to see people go out of their way to save a vulnerable creature like Riggs.
“The day before he appeared on the platform we had a fierce wind storm in Victoria, so I suspect he was blown out to sea.
“When he arrived he had no injuries, but was a bit dehydrated and underweight.”
She said that despite the fact that some see them as pests, the Grey-head Flying-foxes were on the endangered list. Julie has fallen in love with Riggs who is doing really well in his recovery.
“He is a gorgeous young man,” she said. “They are extremely intelligent creatures, and he would have known that the platform crew members were helping him.
“In his new enclosure he seems to favour hanging from an iron bar. No doubt he has fond memories of his time on the platform.”
Julie said Riggs would be released around the end of September when he puts on a bit more weight.