Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

January 26, 2010

Cosco Busan bird toll update; Plovers survive spill

A new federal bird report on the damage caused by a 2007 San Francisco Bay oil spill says the endangered Snowy Plover survived the spill in good numbers, but other species weren’t so lucky.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report says at least 6,700 ducks, loons, cormorants, gulls, pelicans and other birds were probably killed by the bunker fuel that spilled from the Cosco Busan Nov. 7, 2007. The container ship was being escorted by a pilot boat in heavy early morning fog when it side-swiped the Bay Bridge support structure.

The bird death toll was determined by multiplying the known bird body count by a factor of roughly 2.3.

According to the report, a 2.3 figure was computed by studying how long bird carcasses laid on beaches, how hard they were to find and how many of the deaths were caused by factors unrelated to the oil spill.

The good news is that nearly all Bay Area snowy plovers — tiny white-and-brown birds that nest in sand dunes and are listed federally as a threatened species — survived the deadly oil spill. The oil spread from Oakland and Alameda waters out the Golden Gate and closed beaches in San Francisco and Marin Counties.

IBRRC was one of the lead organizations responding to the spill and treated over 1,000 birds in its Northern California OWCN wildlife rescue center.

Birds killed due to 2007 Cosco Busan accident:

1,632 Diving ducks, including scoters and scaup
87 Loons
1,133 Western, Clark’s and other large grebes
494 Eared, horned and other small grebes
129 Northern fulmars
484 Cormorants
215 Gulls
21 Brown pelicans
609 Common murres
13 Marbled murrelets
130 Other members of the alcid family
1,421 Shorebirds
318 Other marsh or land birds

6,688 Total

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner

Photos courtesy:

Oiled Surf Scoter in Alameda. (Photo: Glenn Tepke)

Snowy Plover along shore (Photo: Tom Grey)

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