Update: Patagonia spill response in Argentina

Great Grebe. (IFAW ER photo)

Update from the oil spill incident that began in December 2007 in Patagonia, Argentina:

After a long and difficult two days, the second wave of team members, including Jay Holcomb and Michelle Bellizzi from IBRRC in California, finally on the ground after arriving at almost midnight Thursday night. The team doesn’t have luggage but are hopeful that it will be delivered directly to the hotel sometime today.

Currently, there are 367 live birds in-house comprised of 234 Magellanic penguins, 30 cormorants, 10 steamer ducks and 67 grebes. The new admits to the hospital have slowed considerably which has allowed the team to concentrate their efforts on providing full medical exams on every bird as well as successfully begin to move the healthiest birds through the washing process. It’s always a very positive change during a spill response when the first clean birds are in pools and beginning to waterproof.

Oiled Penguins after feeding and before being washed.

At the command center briefing today, Valeria Ruoppolo, Penguin Network veterinarian, reports that the only really positive thing is the wildlife response and the Government is very pleased to see the animals being cared for and staff and volunteers being trained. Unfortunately, they believe there is still mobilized oil on the water and that could oil new birds.

On another positive note, the Government from the Santa Cruz region has sent six of their staff to assist the team on the ground in Comodoro Rivadavia. These staff members have all worked with the IFAW ER Team during the Cabo Virgenes spill in 2006 so they bring good skills to the mix and this collaboration will continue their training to increase local capacity.

– Barbara Callahan, IBRRC Director of Response Services & IFAW ER Manager – Oiled Wildlife Division

Funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and co-managed by the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), the Emergency Response team works together to response to oil spills worldwide.