Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘LA Times’

April 13, 2009

Killing ourselves and oceans one ‘nurdle" at a time

If you want some more evidence of how messed up things have gotten in the oceans, please just take time to read this passage from Los Angeles Times’ “Altered Oceans” series:

The Los Angeles River carries enough trash each year to fill the Rose Bowl two stories high, and despite efforts to corral some of it near the river mouth, most slips through to the ocean.

Moore adjusted a trawlnet to collect trash flowing downriver. At Moore’s signal, a crane operator lifted the net out of the water. Volunteers swarmed around the trawlnet, extracted the contents and loaded them into more than a dozen jars.

The jars were filled with plastic pellets the size and shape of pills. They come in all colors and are the raw material for a vast array of plastic products, from trash bags to medical devices.

About 100 billion pounds of pellets are produced every year and shipped to Los Angeles and other manufacturing centers. Huge numbers are spilled on the ground and swept by rainfall into gutters; down storm drains, creeks and rivers; and into the ocean.

From his river sampling, Moore estimated that 236 million pellets washed down the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers in three days’ time. Also known as “nurdles” or mermaid tears, they are the most widely seen plastic debris around the world. They have washed ashore as far away as Antarctica.

The pellets, like most types of plastic, are sponges for oily toxic chemicals that don’t readily dissolve in water, such as the pesticide DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Some pellets have been found to contain concentrations of these pollutants 1 million times greater than the levels found in surrounding water.

– From the Pulitzer Prize winning 2006 series: Altered Oceans © Los Angeles Times

January 6, 2009

What’s causing fatigued pelicans to drop from sky?

The ongoing discovery of scores of fatigued and disoriented California Brown Pelicans is causing concern among biologists and bird lovers, but yielding few concrete answers to what’s causing their condition.

Since late in December, the giant seabirds have been found in frail condition along highways and backyards, miles from their coastal homes. At both IBRRC bird centers, but especially at the San Pedro center, we’ve had our hands full treating these remarkable birds. There are almost 50 pelicans in care this week alone.

Writer Louis Sahagun and photographer Mark Boster of the Los Angeles Times collaborated to capture the concern for these pelicans:

Wildlife rescuers from San Diego to San Francisco suddenly are facing a distressing biological mystery: Disoriented and bruised California brown pelicans are landing on highways and airport runways and in farm fields, alleys and backyards miles from their normal coastal haunts.

In the last week, the big brown birds known for flying in formation over beaches have been reported wobbling across Culver Boulevard in Playa del Rey and on a Los Angeles International Airport runway. Two dead pelicans were found on the 110 Freeway. Elsewhere, one smacked into a car.

See: California brown pelicans found frail and far from home

View: The LA Times photo gallery

Learn how you can help us care for these birds: Adopt-a-Pelican

August 3, 2008

Helping us get the word out: LA Times story

The Los Angeles Times has a really terrific story this weekend about our efforts with young starving pelicans at our Southern California center. Julie King, IBRRC’s San Pedro center manager is quoted near perfectly:

…”Will they survive after we let them go? Hard to say,” King said. “But I do know this; we are giving these birds a second chance to get back in the wild and figure it all out…”

Worth reading: Bird rehab gives young pelicans a second chance

November 14, 2007

David Helvarg: It smells like a gas station

David Helvarg: Death by the Bay, Opinion page, Los Angeles Times:

“…I’m sitting by the dock of the Bay — that’s what Otis Redding called the Berkeley Municipal Pier in his famous song. Only now it smells like a gas station. On the rock pile below me, a surf scoter — a diving duck — is using the bottom of its red bill to preen its oil-blackened feathers. It shakes its head and carefully repeats the process for the half an hour I’m there. When I make too sudden a move, it flaps its wings like it’s going to flee into the water, where it would likely die of hypothermia, its natural insulation ruined by the oil. I’ll see dozens more oiled birds this day: scoters, grebes, gulls, a rudy duck and cormorants.

The Berkeley marina behind me is one big, oily sheen. “Rainbows of oil” is a misnomer. Gasoline leaves rainbow sheens. Bunker fuel leaves green-and-brown streaks and smudges like marbled meat gone bad. It leaves floating tar balls and disks and globular curly-cue pieces, and concentrations of hard, asphalt-like toxic chips…”


See the full piece from the November 13, 2007 issue