Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

January 18, 2011

Remembering the 1971 San Francisco Bay oil spill

Hello everyone,

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Oregon Standard Oil Spill, the massive 800,000 gallon spill that occurred in San Francisco Bay in 1971. The concept of International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) was born in the midst of the spill because it was clear way back in 1971 that oil spills were becoming a part of our reality, and after a quick review it was evident that no organization had developed effective techniques to care for oiled birds. IBRRC was created to do just that – develop techniques and protocols to humanely treat and rehabilitate oiled birds.

IBRRC’s Founder Alice Berkner, and a handful of others, came up with the concept of IBRRC while trying to help the more than 7,000 birds that filled warehouses around the Bay Area. Most of those birds died, but their deaths were not in vain. The demise of these birds only encouraged people to try harder, and by April of 1971 IBRRC was incorporated as a non-profit organization.

This year we proudly celebrate IBRRC’s 40th anniversary, and throughout the year we will provide more information, interviews and celebrate our accomplishments. In the meantime, let’s take a moment of silence to remember the animals that lost their lives 40 years ago.

Since then, tens of thousands of animals have been recovered and given a second chance thanks to IBRRC and because of one person’s vision and focus. On behalf of all of us who have followed in your path, thank you Alice for your passion and vision, and for creating IBRRC.

Jay Holcomb
Director Emeritus
International Bird Rescue Research Center

November 19, 2010

Public’s help still needed to locate injured gulls

The public is being urged by rescuers to keep an eye out for the remaining beer-can-collared gulls in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Recent sightings of the adult and juvenile Western gulls have come in from Bolinas Lagoon to San Francisco’s Fishermen’s Wharf to SF State University out near Lake Merced. The bird (top, right) is a second year juvenile Western Gull photographed on November 17th at San Francisco State University in the southwestern area of the city.

Like most wild birds, they are understandably wary of approach. If you see one of these birds please send or call in details – Time, Date, location, and a pic if possible – phoning (831) 429-2323 and/or emailing rescue@wildrescue.org. Two organizations are collaborating on this effort, International Bird Rescue (Fairfield) and WildRescue (Monterey).

The reward has been raised to $6,100 for the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who collared the gulls.

Earlier this week a team from WildRescue successfully captured one gull at Lake Merced and removed the beer can from it’s neck. Video of the gull rescue is on YouTube

See more information here: http://wildrescues.blogspot.com/

November 17, 2010

Reward raised to $6,100 for info on collared gulls

As the search continues for other beer can collared birds in the San Francisco Bay Area, the reward has been raised to $6,100 for the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who collared the gulls.

Thanks to a generous $5,000 pledge from the California Beer and Beverage Distributors (CBBD), the reward will help to focus more attention in stopping the prankster (s) from collaring anymore birds. The CBBD is a nonprofit representing 100 beer distributors and brewer/vendor members in California.

Earlier this week one of the gulls was captured by a team from WildRescue and the beer can removed from its neck. It was caught at Lake Merced in San Francisco. See video below

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)

November 1, 2009

Update on San Francisco Bay oil spill response

Dozens of oiled birds were rescued Saturday as crews searched beaches and estuaries looking for birds caught up in Friday morning’s spill on San Francisco Bay. See: Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN).

One of the biggest collection points is in Alameda at Crown Memorial State Beach just southeast of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge where the Dubai Star leaked bunker oil during a refueling operation. Coast Guard reported 400 to 800 gallons of very toxic bunker oil spilled about 2 1/2 miles south of the bridge.

From OWCN’s blog this morning:

The first oiled birds that we sighted included a Western Grebe, an Eared Grebe, and a Surf Scoter. These birds were active and we could not catch them. By about 1400-1500, we had our first oiled birds beaching themselves along the Alameda shoreline, especially along the Crown Beach area. One thing that we really appreciated is that many people heeded the warning notices and did not walk on their neighborhood beaches, instead letting us walk the beach trying to catch birds. Quiet beaches allow for the birds to settle down and this is the point where we can come in and catch them.

At one section of Crown Beach we caught over 10 oiled American Coots and even some oiled shorebirds. By 1600, we had a load of birds in one of the OWCN trucks headed for our primary treatment facility, the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center, by Cordelia. Some of these birds were heavily oiled and needed rapid treatment.

Tomorrow will undoubtedly be a very busy day for us. We will have at least eight teams of trained responders out on the beaches trying to capture any oiled wildlife that we might encounter. Additionally, we will have a team of US Fish and Wildlife responders and their boat out with us, as well as members of the Golden Gate Audubon doing reconnaissance work around the shores of San Francisco. They will help us by keeping an eye out for birds in distress in areas that we are not getting to regularly because there is no reported oil in those locations.

– Nils Warnock, OWCN Field Operations Specialist

If you find any oiled wildlife, please immediately contact 1.877.UCD.OWCN (1-877-823-6926).

We’ll update folks when we know more.

April 16, 2009

High winds causing Cormorant strandings?

A notable spike in patients has local marine bird rescuers puzzled. In the last two days, International Bird Rescue Research Center in Northern California has received 13 stranded marine birds, mosty Brandt’s cormorants. Eleven more of the snake-necked birds are expected to arrive from San Jose, CA this afternoon.

Another oddity is that many were found in Bay Area parking lots and on roads when they should be found on beaches or jetties.

For these specialists in aquatic bird rehabilitation, a higher than normal number of patients always signifies a greater problem, as was the case this winter with the scores of ailing pelicans.

While it is premature to say exactly why so many of these birds are falling ill, Jay Holcomb, director of the aquatic bird facility believes the recent high winds may have contributed to the strandings.

This speculation that unusual weather or climate change may be impacting sea birds is supported by recent word from Farallon Islands researchers that the Brandt’s cormorants have not started nesting, as they should. The atypical winds, choppy seas, and sparse zooplankton may be the reason.

Last year researchers reported the smallest breeding population of Brandt’s with the lowest reproductive success in twenty years. Researchers hope this is not the sign of another colony failure.

The birds in convalescence are being treated for superficial wounds and are doing well. The rescue organization is asking for help from the public in reporting birds that appear injured or stranded and donations to help cover the cost of their care.

For rescues people are urged to call the California wildlife hotline at 866-WILD-911 for the nearest rescuer.

News reports:

KTVU-2: High Winds May Be Injuring Cormorants

CBS-5: High Winds Pose Threat To Sea Bird Nesting

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 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.

GREATER RESPONSE CAPABILITIES:
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.

September 26, 2008

Wildlife rescue training marks Cosco Busan anniversary

Rescuing disabled wild animals requires a unique set of skills, very different from those used in handling domestic animals. WildRescue is offering a unique class on these commands, taught by international experts who respond to wildlife emergencies on a regular basis. While the class is tailored for animal control officers, park rangers, game wardens, biologists, and wildlife rehabilitators, members of the public are invited. Students must be 18 years or older.

Helping to mark the one-year anniversary of the Cosco Busan disaster, the first class of many classes is being offered November 8th through the Berkeley Marina Shorebird Park Nature Center. A second, hosted by the Farallones Marine Sanctuary, is slated for December 6th, at Crissy Field. For more information on hosting a class in your area, or to register, go to wildrescue.org or call 831-869-6241. Class fee is $40 with discounts available to government agencies and charities.

“There are a lot of people out there who want to know how to help animals in crisis. History has shown us that when we don’t give them that information, they’ll take things into their own hands, said Jay Holcomb, Executive Director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center. “By providing this type of training, we’re able to guide people to work within the system for the greater good.”

WildRescue’s director, Rebecca Dmytryk, sees this educational campaign as a means of building a community’s corps of specially trained individuals who may be called upon to rescue injured wild animals – be there one or thousands. She hopes many will be recruited by local rescue organizations wishing to bolster their own capabilities.

April 23, 2008

Cosco Busan pilot slapped with felony charges

Another legal slap, this one serious, has been handed down to the Cosco Busan pilot who was in charge of navigating the container ship that struck the Bay Bridge and spilled 54,000 gallons of oil.

Today a federal grand jury added two felony counts of lying to the Coast Guard to an earlier indictment. The new charges stem from physical exams he took in January 2006 and January 2007 to renew his federal pilot’s license. In those exams, the pilot, John Cota, 60, of Petaluma, did not disclose the host of medications he was taking.

Because of the spill, thousands of birds perished in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many more are believed dead after the November 7, 2007 spill closed beaches in the bay and along the outer coastline in Marin County and at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle story online

March 26, 2008

Timeline of Cosco Busan spill: First 90 minutes

This is a timeline of the Cosco Busan spill. It shows how fast things happen after an oil spill – and why acting quickly is important. The Nov. 7, 2007 spill put 53,569 gallons of fuel oil into San Francisco Bay.

Here are the first 90 minutes:

8:30 a.m.: Harbor pilot Capt. John Cota, guiding the 900-foot Cosco Busan out of port, notifies vessel traffic service that the ship “touched” a Bay Bridge pier.

8:37: Spill first reported by president of Bar Pilots Association; details scant.

8:54: Cota calls U.S. Coast Guard, reports ship discharging fuel.

8:55: New pilot boards Cosco Busan, replacing Cota.

9 a.m.: Deadline under state law for ship’s crew to place four phone calls reporting spill.

9:03: Coast Guard vessel under way to the ship carrying its own spill investigator.

9:05: First cleanup contractor learns of accident from a third party.

9:10: Contractor dispatches first two cleanup vessels; San Francisco Fire Department calls Coast Guard to offer aid, is turned away.

9:15: Cosco Busan crew makes first required phone call about spill, to its owner-representative.

9:17: Replacement pilot calls second cleanup contractor, leaves message.

9:18: Second contractor calls back, is told spill is about 400 gallons.

9:23: Pilot reports ship is no longer leaking fuel.

9:30: First contractor on scene. Reports heavy fog but finds no oil.

9:35: Contractor smells oil and reports “heavy sheen” on water.

9:42: State Office of Emergency Services notified of spill by ship’s owner-representative.

9:45: State oil spill expert arrives at Yerba Buena Island command center, begins three-hour wait to board Cosco Busan.

9:50: Coast Guard pollution investigator boards Cosco Busan.

10 a.m.: Contractor gets approval to begin skimming oil.

Source: U.S. Coast Guard Incident Specific Preparedness Review committee report, Jan. 11.

– From the Sacramento Bee

March 18, 2008

Pilot captain in Cosco Busan oil spill charged

The pilot boat captain responsible for helping navigate the container ship Cosco Busan that struck the San Francisco Bay Bridge and spilling thousands of gallons of oil that ultimately killed 2,500 birds, has been charged in federal court.

On Monday, Capt. John J. Cota of Petaluma was charged with two environmental laws, including violating the Clean Water Act through criminal negligence and of killing birds, a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The 60 year-old Cota was in charge of navigating the 901-foot container ship out of San Francisco Bay on the morning of November 7, 2007 when it ran into the Bay Bridge in heavy fog. More than 50,000 gallons of bunker crude oil spewed out of the side of the ship. The oil spill closed beaches, coated birds with toxic crude and left a swath of oil from Oakland estuaries to Richardson Bay to outside the Golden Gate Bridge.

IBRRC’s Executive Director, Jay Holcomb issued a statement yesterday after the charges came down in San Francisco:

“We are happy to hear that the Federal government is taking the Cosco Busan oil spill disaster seriously, said Holcomb. “We hope that the pilot of the ship will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and send the message that in this day and age this kind of preventable accident is unacceptable.”

In the meantime, Cota had his pilot’s license suspended by a state pilot commission after it concluded that “pilot error” was the cause of the crash.

The bird rescue center helped treat hundreds of birds after the spill. Over 421 were cleaned of oil, banded and released back into the wild. IBRRC depends on the public’s support for all its year-round bird rehabilitation programs. Donate

Read more:

San Francisco Chronicle story

Video report:

Associated Press story from YouTube

March 15, 2008

April NTSB public hearing in DC on SF oil spill

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will hold a two-day public hearing Cosco Busan oil spill that dumped around 55,000 gallons of fuel oil into San Francisco Bay after striking the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

The hearing will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 8 at the NTSB’s Board Room and Conference Center, 429 L’Enfant Plaza, SW., Washington, D.C.

The hearing is part of the NTSB’s ongoing investigation into the accident that involved the 900-foot Cosco Busan container ship that struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on November 7, 2007. The board hopes to learn more about why Coast Guard and state officials were so slow to react and report the spill that killed more than 2,500 birds.

The hearing will be webcast. An agenda and webcast details will be posted on the Board’s website, http://www.ntsb.gov, when available.

January 26, 2008

Share your videos of San Francisco oil spill

Do you have video footage of the Cosco Busan oil spill response? Want to share it with others?

The San Francisco Ocean Film Festival wants you to submit your video work of the clean up-efforts, the local animals, beaches and people that have been affected by the November 2007 disaster. Post your videos here
“Everyone is encouraged to contribute raw footage or edited shorts about what they saw, what they did, and how they feel about 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel spilling in our backyard,” say the organizers.

The best clips will be shown at The 2008 San Francisco Ocean Film Festival (SFOFF) at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, Pier 2 in San Francisco, CA 94123-1322 over the weekend of February 1-3. Festival Office Phone: (415) 561-6251 More festival information online

Now in its fifth year, SFOFF celebrates the sea with inspirational films that increase our appreciation of the oceans that surround us. View the beauty and mysteries of the ocean, experience the thrill of saltwater sports, explore coastal cultures, and pause to reflect on the importance of this vital ecosystem.

You can view some of the clips already uploaded to a group’s You Tube space: View the current submissions

Here’s one of our favorites: Ocean Beach interviews >>>>>>

January 21, 2008

SF Bay spill restoration: Public forums Jan. 22 & 29

The six government agencies responsible for the restoration of the San Francisco Bay after the Cosco Busan oil spill, will hold two public meetings in January 2008.

The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 11 AM. The location of the meeting is First Floor Auditorium at the Elihu M. Harris State Building, 1515 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94601. Building info and location

The second meeting will be held Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 6:30 PM in the Cascade Room at the Mill Valley Community Center 180 El Camino Alto, Mill Valley, CA 94941. See map to the location

According to webpage for California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), “the primary purpose of the meetings is to provide an opportunity for the public and other organizations to learn about the restoration process and to provide any additional information and data they collected.”

The November 7, 2007 spill killed at least 2,500 birds after 58,000 gallons of bunker crude oil spilled into the bay. Less than a third of the oil has been recovered.

IBRRC update

San Francisco Chronicle story