Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

January 20, 2015

Mystery goo continues to affect seabirds on San Francisco Bay

A Dunlin, a very small shorebird, is washed of a mystery contaminant at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

A Dunlin, a very small shorebird, is washed of a mystery contaminant at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

As crews continue to search the shoreline of San Francisco Bay for goo-fouled seabirds, the number of birds in care continues to climb. At least 262 live birds are now in care Tuesday morning.

The seabirds, including Surf Scoters, Horned Grebes, Buffleheads, Scaups and smaller shorebirds have been collected along the East Bay shoreline. This includes areas in Alameda, especially around Bay Farm Island Shoreline Park south to San Leandro Marina and around Hayward.

There have been confirmed reports of a handful of listless Scoters spotted in Foster City on the western side of San Francisco Bay.

To assist the collections affected birds, International Bird Rescue set up an online form for public reports of beached birds suspected to be covered in the substance. Members of the public are not advised to collect birds at this time, given the unknown nature of the substance.

Surf Scoter cleaned of goo is recuperating in a pelagic pool at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Surf Scoter cleaned of goo is recuperating in a pelagic pool at the San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

The total of collected seabirds has reached 380 as of early Tuesday morning. This includes 80 found dead. 300 birds have been transported to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center located in Fairfield, CA. At least 262 are alive and 55 have been washed of the unknown sticky substance as of Monday evening. 38 birds transported to the center have been pronounced dead. At least 75 birds have been washed of the substance.

The birds are coated in sticky, gooey mystery substance that destroys feather waterproofing, which can cause hypothermia and death. A state lab is working to determine what the substance might be.

Since the substance’s origin has not been determined, International Bird Rescue is paying for all emergency seabird treatment costs. We are asking the public for support to save these precious seabirds.

“We’re so thankful for the public’s contributions to help us pay for this unusual response,” said Barbara Callahan, International Bird Rescue’s interim director. “As a small non-profit with limited resources, we depend on donations to fund this very unusual bird rescue event.”
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International Bird Rescue
Attn: Mystery Goo Response
4369 Cordelia Road
Fairfield CA 94534

On late Friday, January 16, 2015 International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center received a large influx of birds found on both land and water by East Bay Regional Park District staffers. They were covered in a sticky mess of matted feathers.

International Bird Rescue has been saving seabirds and other aquatic birds around the world since 1971. Bird Rescue’s team of specialists operates two year-round aquatic bird rescue centers in California, which care for over 5,000 birds every year, and has led oiled wildlife rescue efforts in over 200 oil spills in more than a dozen countries.

Media reports

S.F. Bay bird rescue: Mystery goo bedevils experts, San Francisco Chronicle

Sticky situation: Mystery goop endangers birds in California, CBS-TV

Mysterious Bird Deaths due to Oily Substance, KRON4-TV

Two Surf Scoters, one female, left, and the other a male, enjoy a special moment after being cleaned of mystery goo at San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

Two Surf Scoters, one female, left, and the other a male, enjoy a special moment after being cleaned of mystery goo at San Francisco Bay Center. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds

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