On May 29, 2019 International Bird Rescue was activated for spill response by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) after approximately 80-125 gallons of crude were released into the Pacific Ocean on May 28 in Goleta, CA. This type of response is well within Bird Rescue’s wheelhouse, and we know what to expect: Within hours of notification, responders Susan Kaveggia and Jeannette Bates were on site and prepared to capture affected wildlife on May 29 and 30.
Luckily, few animals were impacted by this event, but just as in every drill or spill scenario, it pays to expect the unexpected! Several novel challenges came up during this event to keep everyone in the response thinking, including whether a pelican observed eating an oiled crab moments before capture was considered “contaminated” (ultimately, the bird was indeed considered oiled due to observable oil on its feet), and how to identify and process a deceased oiled sea cucumber (thanks to oceanic biologists!). Because we live in California and have a well-established and practiced Wildlife Response Plan and experienced responders in-state, these unexpected and unforeseen issues were resolved quickly without disrupting the response.
Bird Rescue is always ready to respond to an oil spill, whether it happens locally or abroad. In the same month as the Goleta Spill, our Response Management team traveled to Perth, Australia for SpillCon and Vancouver, BC for the Clean Pacific Conference. These events are sponsored by Industry and OSROs (Oil Spill Response Organizations) for Industry, and are a great opportunity to talk with our colleagues and share how Bird Rescue can help professionally manage and respond to wildlife affected in a spill.