Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for November 2008

November 30, 2008

Do your part: Stash the trash

Oil spills are nasty, horrible messes, but do you know what may be worse? All the trash we dump into the oceans. From plastic lighters to toys to cigarette butts, the sea has become man’s monster garbage disposal. Walk along any beach after a major storm and the things that wash on our beaches will truly astound you.

Save the Bay kicked off a terrific public service campaign in 2006 to encourage all of us to pay attention to how we treat San Francisco Bay. It’s a good reminder for all of us.

Remember the candy wrapper you dropped on the street, or the bag that the wind blew out of your car? Chances are that those items are polluting the Bay and harming wildlife. Trash is accumulating in bays and oceans worldwide – one study found plastic outweighing plankton (the building block of the food web) by 6 to 1…

See Save SF Bay’s website on the Stash your Trash campaign

November 30, 2008

More on the Cosco Busan oil spill

Paul Rogers of the San Jose Mercury News has an excellent one year update on the Cosco Busan oil spill on San Francisco Bay. The spill in November 2007 left thousands of birds dead after 50,000 gallons of bunker fuel spewed out into the bay.

…The eerie rainbow sheen is long gone from the water. The damaged ship has changed its name, sailed away and hasn’t returned since. All 69 miles of fouled beaches are cleaned…

Of note from the article:

• To date, the cleanup and legal claims total $90 million.
• Tests on herring eggs have shown developmental abnormalities
• The ship had its name changed to “Hanjin Cairo”

Read more here

November 13, 2008

New wildlife rescue training classes offered

IBRRC is pleased to offer a handful of new day-long wildlife rescue classes, designed by WildRescue’s Rebecca Dmytryk. The first will be offered at IBRRC’s Fairfield, CA bird center on Sunday, December 7, 2008. Others are scheduled for Berkeley, Oakland and Fremont in January and February 2009. Classes in Southern California will also be scheduled soon. See complete list

Participants will be taught successful capture strategies and handling and restraint methods of native species, regulations, re-nesting of young, first aid and stabilization, and disaster response. Completion of this class does not in any way exempt students from local, state, and federal laws governing the capture and possession of oiled or non-oiled wildlife.

Each class is from 8 AM to 5 PM. The classes are only open to those 18 years and older.

More information and sign-up for this training class

This past Saturday, November 7th, response team members Mark Russell, Rebecca Dmytryk and Duane Titus marked the one-year anniversary of the Cosco Busan by teaching a wildlife capture class to a large group of Bay Area citizens. The class, offered by WildRescue, was an overwhelming success, filled with optimism and enthusiasm.

Wildlife rescue is a new and evolving profession. No where else can you find this unique curriculum of skills being taught by those who have been rescuing debilitated wild animals throughout the world for over 37 years. While offering this unique schooling to other wildlife rescue organizations, government agencies, and the public, IBRRC sees this as a means of identifying potential candidates for its response team recruitment campaign – a program funded by a generous grant recently awarded by the San Francisco Foundation Cosco Busan Oil Spill Fund.

In 2009 IBRRC will invite 30 people to participate in a year-long training program to develop the skills they’ll need to join their California based emergency response team. 10 new members will be added to IBRRC oiled wildlife response team and 20 new people will join the rehabilitation team.

Nothing like this has ever been done before. This is a new and exciting step forward in bolstering California’s ability to respond effectively to oiled wildlife.

Download the class flyer

November 12, 2008

Ticking oil spill time bomb off Central CA coast?

A sunken oil tanker hit by a Japanese submarine torpedoes nearly 70 years ago, may be a ticking oil spill time bomb off the central coast of California.

The “Montebello” sits in 900 feet of water about six miles from Cambria at the southern edge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Most of its original cargo – 4.1 million gallons of crude oil – is intact.

The 440-foot tanker is one of the hundreds of sunken ships off the west coast. It sunk on Dec. 23, 1941, just 16 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It had just departed Port San Luis, where it was loaded with 75,000 barrels of Santa Maria crude. It was heading north to Vancouver, British Columbia before it was sunk 170 miles south of San Francisco.

Two formal expeditions have dived on the ship, the first in 1996 and the most recent in 2003. Now covered in bioluminescent anemone and draped with fishing nets, divers said they found the hull in decent shape in the latest dive. According to one theory, the tanks are still in one piece partly because pressure from the semisolid oil on the inside is keeping the hull from leaking.

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High cost of environmental damage

Why should we care about these sunken tankers? Besides the obvious answer of ruptured tanker holds leaking oil, we’re concerned about oil causing injury to birds unlucky enough to find themselves in the middle of a slick.

For years, IBRRC took in thousands of oiled birds picked up from a “mystery spill” that hit beaches from Ocean Beach in San Francisco south to Half Moon Bay. Thousands of Common Murres were oiled during this chronic oiling. The oil was finally linked to the S.S. Jacob Luckenbach that sunk in 1953 approximately 17 miles southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge off of San Francisco. The “fingerprint” of this oil matches oil taken from tarballs and oiled feathers from past “mystery spills” in 1992-93, 1997-98, 1999, and Feb. 2001.

The Luckenbach was cleaned of its leaking oil in the spring of 2002. The Coast Guard and the Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) managed a contractor that pumped out an estimated 300,000 gallons of oil at a cost of nearly $20 million. The job was completed in October 2002.

Read more online:

Monterey County Weekly

New Times

Los Angeles Times

California Connected

November 12, 2008

Every breath you take: Thank ocean’s plankton

Every time you take a breath, thank the ocean and phytoplankton. At least half the world’s oxygen output comes from the sea by way of the tiny, drifting marine animals and plants called phytoplankton.

During photosynthesis, the microscopic lungs of the earth, phytoplankton use carbon and returns oxygen to the water and atmosphere. Not only does plankton provide O2, it also is the start of the food web that allows fish, birds and mammals to proliferate.

The group Greenpeace has a terrific “Lungs of the Earth” video underscoring this important aspect of the sea. The group is trying to remind us that oceans get too little credit for their oxygen production, as well as their capacity to absorb CO2.

Watch it:

Phytoplankton production is good indicator of environmental change, too much plankton can be deadly for birds and other animals. These blooms often result in domoic acid that affect animals central nervous systems.

The ocean is a balance, do your part by keeping it clean.

Also see:

Death bloom of plankton a warning on warming

Greenpeace campaign for the oceans

National Geographic: Phytoplankton

November 1, 2008

IBRRC: A year after Cosco Busan spill response

Making strides towards better response

The size and magnitude of the Cosco Busan gave us the opportunity to learn where we need to improve. We have spent the year making strides to ensure a better response in the event of another major incident. We’d like to share these with everyone.

IBRRC is taking the initiative to improve its ability to have enough trained and experienced people to rescue and rehabilitate oiled animals. Through a generous grant recently awarded by the “The San Francisco Foundation Cosco Busan Oil Spill Fund”, IBRRC will be able to recruit and train 10 additional search and collection personnel and 20 new in-house oiled bird rehabilitation volunteers.

ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT: IBRRC’s specially designed warm water pool systems are being upgraded to house an added number of birds requiring this supportive care. Through an anonymous grant and support from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), IBRRC added a new 100-foot long pelican flight aviary to the bird facility in Fairfield. This aviary is able to house up to 100 of the endangered birds. Designs for a new complex of additional aviaries are in the final stages.

ADVANCES IN CARE: After 37 years, IBRRC continues to lead the world with advancements in oiled wildlife capture and rehabilitation. Its net-bottom caging for sea birds was conceived during the 1984 Puerto Rican Oil Spill in San Francisco Bay by IBRRC Director, Jay Holcomb. This year, in collaboration with the OWCN, these pens were modified to incorporate “soft sides”, further reducing potential injury to captive birds.

Additional advancements have been made through their partnership with the OWCN including IBRRC’s keel cushions, protective foot ‘booties’, and aquatic bird diets. IBRRC manages two of the major oiled wildlife care and education facilities built under the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand legislation and is a principle participant in the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. Additionally, in partnership with the International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW), IBRRC has responded to worldwide oil spills. It is in these oil spill events that IBRRC’s protocols and rehabilitation methods are tested and utilized.

November 1, 2008

Has S.F. Bay recovered a year after oil spill?

Lots of stories will emerge this month on how the fragile San Francisco Bay is doing following last year’s Cosco Busan oil spill. Most of them so far seem to have swallowed the state’s reports verbatim.

The first that I saw is from the San Francisco Chronicle: S.F. Bay seems recovered a year after oil spill

You can certainly debate how well the bay has recovered. I don’t pretend to be a biologist, but common sense – if earlier oil spills are any indication – tells us that longer periods of study are required. See: NOAA: Remaining impacts of Exxon Valdez spill

From a Mother Jones report, Oil Spills are Forever:

In the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, scientists have traced much of the trouble to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, an especially persistent family of chemicals found in oil that can cause deformities, slower growth, and poorer reproduction in many birds and animals.

Read more online about this issue and a interview with Riki Ott who a trained marine toxicologist, she has studied the bilogical and societial issues surrounding the Exxon Valdez spill.

Even a government scientific report posted online, suggests that further study is in order:

…State and federal trustee agencies have been assessing the ecological injuries and impacts to human activities
caused by the Cosco Busan oil spill…1,859 [birds] collected dead, hundreds observed oiled but not captured. Total mortality estimation, taking into account birds missed and scavenged, and dead birds not related to the spill, is on-going. Recovery times will vary across species.

See: Natural Resource Damage Assessment for Cosco Busan Oil Spill (PDF)