Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

May 27, 2015

Number of Oiled Seabirds Continues To Rise from Refugio Oil Pipeline Rupture

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Using a toothbrush, IBR staff and volunteers clean an oiled California Brown Pelican at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in San Pedro, CA. Photo by Bill Steinkamp – International Bird Rescue

Photo oiled Peilcan at International Bird Rescue

Wildlife responders from International Bird Rescue clean oiled Brown Pelican. Photo: Joseph Proudman – UC Davis

As the numbers of oiled animals affected by the Refugio Oil Incident continues to climb, our Los Angeles Center is ground zero for treating oil coated seabirds. At least 20 seabirds are now in care at the center in San Pedro, CA

International Bird Rescue (IBR) also has teams in the field assisting the search and collection of oiled wildlife in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

“The birds that we’ve seen so far have come in completely coated with oil,”  Dr. Christine Fiorello, an Oiled Wildlife Care Network veterinarian told the media at a press conference last week. “They can’t move. They can’t forage. They can’t fly. They can’t dive. So yeah, they would die pretty rapidly if they were not cleaned.”

Most of the birds captured on beaches are Brown Pelicans – large seabirds that have the strength and fortitude to survive the thick gooey crude. Many smaller seabirds may have perished in the thick gunk.

Serverly oiled Brown Pelican brought to San Pedro Center. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck – International Bird Rescue

Serverly oiled Brown Pelican brought to San Pedro Center. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck – International Bird Rescue

A week ago Tuesday morning May 19, a 24-inch underground pipeline burst near Refugio State Beach about 20 miles NW of Santa Barbara. About 100,000 gallons of crude oil, specifically Las Flores Canyon OCS (Outer Continental Shelf), spilled into a culvert that led to the Pacific Ocean.

As a member of California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network we are providing the best possible care to impacted wildlife. IBR has over 44 years of experience working on oil spill all over the world. See our history

As of Wednesday evening May 27th, a total of 57 seabirds have been collected – 39 alive and 18 dead. There have been 32 total mammals collected with 22 rescued alive and 10 found dead.

Washing oiled Pelican at San Pedro Center. IBR photo

Washing oiled Pelicans at San Pedro Center. IBR photo

The affected birds are being taken to Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network and stabilized before being transported for further care and washing at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center.

All oiled mammals including elephant seals and sea lions are being treated and washed at SeaWorld in San Diego location. SeaWorld is also a member of the OWCN.

Animal numbers are updated each day and available on the OWCN blog: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/owcn/

Please don’t pickup or try to clean oiled seabirds. The oil is toxic to you and the stress of trying to clean wildlife without proper stabilization and care may do more harm than good. We ask the public to call 1-877-UCD-OWCN to report oiled wildlife.

Note to volunteers: Please don’t contact our very busy San Pedro clinic during this response. Our staff, OWCN members and our trained volunteers are handling the care of these oiled seabirds. 

You can still help in other ways: Please visit the CalSpillWatch website to register as volunteer for other needs on this spill response.

Photo of Oiled Brown Pelicans at International Bird Rescue - OWCN in San Pedro, CA

Most of the oiled seabirds rescued were California Brown Pelicans. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck – International Bird Rescue

Photo cleaned Brown Pelicans at International Bird Rescue

After cleaning Brown Pelicans rescued at the Refugio Oil Spill in Santa Barbara County. Photo by Kylie Clatterbuck – International Bird Rescue

One Response to “Number of Oiled Seabirds Continues To Rise from Refugio Oil Pipeline Rupture”

  1. Ellen Campbell Says:

    This is so heartbreaking. Many thanks and Love to everyone who works so hard.

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