Argentina 1/21/08 Update: Oil spill response
We established today as a big major penguin washing day so that we can wrap this spill up. With water issues and other problems we have only been able to wash a total of 25 or so penguins a day and we really wanted to do 30 to 40 a day. A few days ago we decided that we would do a long wash day and intend to do 50 to 60 penguins. That only leaves 30 or so oiled penguins left to wash and 10 of those are the weak ones that will go through the process once they are approved. So, today we washed a total of 50 Penguins leaving only 35 left to do and 5 of those are going to wait so only 30 to wash tomorrow.
We are also re-evaluating the steamer ducks. We know 2 have to stay back because of problems but maybe the rest can go. Sergio and I worked a long time on getting them to feed and now the eat real well. We hung tarps on the pools so they are not very stressed during the day so that has improved life for them and they actually started eating when I was in the cage today.
We released another 12 Great Grebes today. They are some of the meanest birds I have ever cared for but one of the most exquisite looking birds. We only have 10 left so I am happy. I have been very stressed with dealing with the aggression and they have managed to kill a few of their pool mates and scalp some others. I have a pool of 3 scalped ones that need to start to grow feathers in by next week. Their waterproofing has been flawless from day one and that is amazing since I have NEVER cleaned their cages. There is no way to do that because it water is so cloudy. You cannot see the bottom and they eat the fish that falls on the bottom. This waterproofing is one of the things that has worked out for them and it is because Rudolpho set us such a brilliant system. Many of the keep sores have resolved and that is amazing also. Great birds and maybe the desert air, soft water and the type of fish they eat combine to make a good pool environment. Who knows?
Some oil got stirred up from somewhere in the local harbor and today we heard there was an oiled cormorant on the breakwater about 4 blocks from here where some sea lions hang out. We are in the backside of a small fishing village and the ladies at the local school provide us with lunch every day so we walk or drive there to eat. Anyway, Valeria and I were going to lunch and went to check out the cormorant and within a half an hour I captured 3 very oiled cormorants and had a few close encounters with the sea lions. Another cormorant swam away but one of the local guys caught it later. So, we now have 4 new oiled cormorants. The good thing is that they are very healthy and we will probably be able to wash them on Wednesday and get them through the system quickly. It is disturbing as there is oil all over the rocks and beaches and they stopped clean up. All the locals are very unhappy.
We also got an oiled South American Tern in that is missing feathers on one wing and will go to Patagonia Natural’s rehab program in Punta Tumbo until it gets it molts and gets new feathers.
There was mui dramatico incident yesterday as Valeria would call it. Some of the fisherman staged a demonstration that they call a manifestation and blocked our road and the main road a few killometers from here. They burnt tires and were loud but peaceful to us. They let us through after the locals told them to not bother the volunteers and all the various bird rehab people like us so we all left at the same time and they passed us through the road block. That was good. Once again they were saying that the penguins are more important than them, etc. and they were making a point to the local government. They made the front page of the local paper but were gone today.
That is really about it for now. I have been sending pictures for the web site and you can see them there. We explained to everyone here that we have 10 days left for us to get the small birds released and get the penguins started on their release and then leave the remaining penguins in the capable hands of the people from Patagonia Natural and the guys from Cabo Vergines, where we worked last year. They will take charge of seeing the remaining penguins out the door.