Update from New Zealand

It is always a bittersweet time when you leave an oil spill response. If you leave in the middle, it is even more so. There are feelings of joy and relief because you will soon be home to get some rest and see your loved ones, mixed with feelings of guilt because you are leaving a job for others to finish. Either way it isn’t easy. This week those of us who will remain in New Zealand, Michelle Bellizzi, Erica Lander, Bruce Adkins, Wendy Massey, and I said goodbye to Julie Skoglund, Deirdre Goodfriend, Susan Kaveggia and Mike Ziccardi.

The ship is holding together; the weather is a mix of rain, wind and sun; and, as they said on the ‘telly’ this morning, it is a good day to pump oil. Friday was Guy Fawkes Night, and although Oiled Wildlife Response Coordinator Kerri Morgan managed to get the planned fireworks display at the raceway/event center behind the wildlife facility canceled, there were still many explosions and lights in the sky. Kerri called me at about 9:00 p.m. after seeing the fireworks near the center from her hotel room across the bay. She went out to the center and found the Dotterels to be fine, the continuous roar of sprint cars muffling the intermittent bangs of the fireworks. Phil Goff, the leader of the Labor Party (the opposition party in New Zealand), visited on Saturday to see the Center and work with the press, and Kerri and I showed him around. He was quite friendly, interested and well-briefed.

We have 3 oiled birds at this point, and are getting a new oiled bird every couple of days or so. They are mainly lightly-oiled and can be washed in a few days time. Most of the birds are in the aviaries now, and about 60 more post-wash birds will likely join them in the next few days. It will then be more of a captive bird management situation, as we try to fatten the Penguins up to prepare for molt. We hope to release them before molt as keeping them in captivity through that stage will present all kinds of new challenges. There have been some changes in the caging and care of the Dotterels to alleviate potential problems with their feet. Dr John Dowding, the Dotterel biologist, noted that we have been more successful than he had initially hoped, with all of the Dotterels still alive and doing well (fingers crossed).

Our staff responsibilities are changing as the animals’ needs change. Michelle is overseeing the swimming in the pools with Bruce helping her there when he is not in the wash room. Wendy is overseeing the management of the aviaries, working with Pauline who is overseeing the animal care there and Barry who is filling in for Bill Dwyer on Facilities. Erica is in the drying/ICU tent with Micah, one of the Massey residents. All of the team are doing a great job, are fitting in, and getting on with it.

More when we know more.

Curt Clumpner
Preparedness Director
International Bird Rescue



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