oiled pelicans

Oiled pelicans wait for their chance to be cleaned at the International Bird Rescue Research Center. Image credit to the IBBRC.

As the oil spreads continuously and thoroughly through the gulf of Mexico, which is just one of the recent oil spills torturing our oceans, it seems almost impossible to focus on doing what we can to help and trying to remain constructive. The destruction hits hard and acts as a constant reminder that we are fighting an up-hill battle. Unfortunately, it’s times like this, when the temptation is to just throw our hands up and call it quits that we most need to work to minimize the damage. This post is about what we can do to help and the previous relative success of such efforts in the past.

Right now, working like crazy, employees and volunteers at the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) and Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research have set up a triage and are working to get the toxic sludge off of seabirds in the gulf of Mexico.

Brown Pelican before and after cleaning

A Brown Pelican before and after being cleaned. Image credit to the IBBRC.

I have seen the IBBRC in action and they are wonderfully capable and effective. I want to point out that, while BP is paying for this entire clean-up and any donations to IBBRC would not go toward the clean-up effort in the gulf, they have been training people for just such an event on their own dime for years and have taken on projects with no party claiming responsibility as well. So, if you would like to help, you can give a donation, adopt a bird or go to your nearest IBBRC and volunteer or get yourself trained to clean, feed and care for birds for the next time such a disaster happens in your area. Once there is already a crisis, they’re in action and they don’t have the time to stop and train someone new on dealing directly with the birds and all of the associated government regulations. If you are interested in volunteering in the gulf right now, here is the site for more information.

So does cleaning and releasing birds help? Do they survive? Do they reproduce normally? The results vary quite a bit depending on many factors. Here is just one study that shows that oiled birds can and do survive and their rehabilitation is successful. Here is a fantastic blog with many more studies discussed and linked to about the same. Don’t follow the oiled bird links unless you have a strong stomach. A lot of research has been done, mostly with penguins, as they are easy to locate and keep track of, that has shown that the birds can survive and reproduce at normal rates compared to birds that were never oiled. Even birds that were oiled two separate times.

For weekly updates on this rescue mission, check in with Tri-state bird rescue and research here.

I understand that this is just birds and that there is a lot more wildlife to consider. However, if I continue research for this post I may just vomit and fall into a spiral of depression, so this will have to do. My apologies. And my love and thanks for the very special people who are strong enough to deal with this mess and who are working their asses off to save what wildlife they can.