The overall impact of wildlife continues to be unknown, but the first victim of the California oil spill was a brown pelican that had to be humanely euthanized. The bird died on Sunday after it was injured off the Orange County coast, according to Michael Ziccardi, director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network.
The major oil spill reaches from Huntington Beach to Laguna Beach. It is estimated 125,000 gallons of oil leaked about five miles off Huntington Beach.
According to CNN, officials had captured four birds – coot, ruddy duck, brown pelican and a sanderling. Other birds showing signs of oil covered while in flight have been difficult to capture. Birds are the first priority to care for since they need their feathers to keep them dry and warm. Birds will then come to the shore to try and warm up.
At this time there isn’t enough information to know the long term effects on marine mammals. Fortunately dolphins are “less susceptible to oil impacts than birds.”
At the University of California at Davis, responders are trained to help wildlife, and if found early enough, they do have a fair chance of recovery and being returned to the wild.
“The first oiled birds are being rescued and stabilized at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center. If you see oiled wildlife on our shores, please follow these steps:1. DO NOT attempt to capture oiled wildlife. They may run back towards the ocean and become further injured. 2. CALL the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at (877) 823-6926. A trained staff member or volunteer from the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center will capture the animal and begin the rehab process,” the City of Huntington Beach posted on their Facebook page.
The animals are cleaned of the oil first, and then they are given food, water and observed carefully for any residual effects of the oil. The average bird is in recovery mode for nearly two weeks.
Unified Command announced that approximately 4,788 gallons of oil has been recovered from the water and 11,360 feet of boom has been deployed.
For those interested in assisting with animal rescue efforts, contact the HB Wetlands, an organization that maintains a wildlife rescue facility on Newland at PCH. HB Wetlands (714) 374-5587. A website for the response has been established at http://SoCalspillreponse.com
The City has also launched a webpage containing the latest information on the Orange County Oil Spill. They will be posting regular updates to the site, which include local, state and federal response efforts. www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/oilspillresponse
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