Mar 9, 2012

WildRescue responds to oiled seabird sightings

In response to the recent wave of oiled seabirds in Southern California and no official search and rescue operations in place, WildRescue sent teams of volunteer responders to scour beaches from Santa Barbara to Malibu, looking for oiled casualties.

Because this recent event (which began last November) involves natural seep and is not related to Man, there is no funding for the rescue of impacted wildlife - there are no funds for search and collection efforts. The rescue of animals is left in the hands of the public.

Normally, during an official oil spill response, there are strict policies governing the collection and care of oiled birds, and there is also funding to offset the costs. But not so when birds are oiled with natural seep. This is when an oiled bird is not an 'oiled bird'.

More on this natural seep event in an LA Times article, HERE.

When a bird becomes oiled, time is of the essence. The longer the bird remains in the environment, and exposed to the elements, the worse its chances are for a full recovery. This, in turn, means that the animals that are collected are often the weakest and worst off.

Map of hot spots from Santa Barbara to the Malibu Pier.

To try and find birds sooner, before they are rundown, WildRescue responders scouted known hot spots Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, for murres and grebes.

Grebes are aquatic birds. Once on land, they are unable to walk. If a grebe is onshore, something is wrong!

Five oiled grebes from previous natural seep event in Malibu.

When oiled, grebes are often found in harbors, lagoons, and tend to strand at the mouths of rivers and streams. Working at night, with heavy duty flashlights, responders are able sneak up on stranded grebes more easily than in daylight.

Photo courtesy Scott Palamar
Murres are black and white, and stand upright, like penguins. They are often found on rocks and jetties, though they will also strand on sandy beaches.

So far, our responders have not located any oiled birds, which is a good sign. They will continue searching on Sunday morning during the minus tide. 

A HUGE Thank You! goes out to Scott, Zack, Yvette, and Lindsey for their efforts!

While this is a volunteer effort, but one that requires a good deal of driving, WildRescue is reimbursing for fuel costs. If you would like to help with a donation earmarked exclusively for this particular oiled seabird response, click HERE, and THANK YOU!

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