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Mobilization to save as many animals as possible victims of the oil spill in California

Covered in oil! Victims of an oil leak off the coast of California (United States), hundreds of suffocated birds and fish washed up on the coast south of Los Angeles. The agents of the care network dedicated to wildlife affected by the oil spill are hard at work to save as many animal lives as possible. Update on the situation with

A man-made disaster! Off the coast of Orange County (southern California), an oil slick several kilometers wide has formed due to a leak from an offshore pipeline (2/10/2021). If the amount of oil spilled in the waters is “only” about 480,000 liters [contre 500 millions de litres libérés par la plateforme Deepwater Horizon dans le golfe du Mexique en 2010, NDLR]the impacts on marine fauna are major… with asphyxiated birds and fish washing up by the hundreds on the coasts.

When we learned of the extent of the slick and the quantity (of oil) released, we had serious fearsspecified in a press conference Michael Ziccardi, director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), a dedicated care network for wildlife victims of oil spills based in California, quoted by CNN. Based on our initial assessment of the area, the number of birds present appears to be lower than we feared. “Several stranded birds were recovered alive – including a coot, a ruddy duck (species of duck, editor’s note) and a sanderling –; all now benefiting from care. One pelican, however, had to be euthanized.

Birds, the first animals to wash up on beaches

Among the marine animals affected by the oil spill, birds are the first to wash up on the beaches. ” Birds have a high body temperature; they use their feathers as a sort of drysuit to keep warm in the marine environmentexplains the director of the care network dedicated to wildlife victims of oil spills. If their plumage is covered in oil, their first instinct is to find warmth as quickly as possible. That’s why they quickly return to the coast. »

If dolphins and other marine mammals would be less sensitive to the effects of oil than birds According to Mr. Ziccardi, the agents in charge of sucking up the oil slick at sea are nevertheless watching for any distress signals. ” Currently, wildlife authorities have noted a high presence of whales off Southern California.worries Miyoko Sakashita, director of the oceans program at the Arizona Center for Biological Diversity, interviewed by CNN. We therefore have considerable concerns about cetaceans swimming through the contaminated waters and breathing in the vapours, which could harm them. »

Long-term consequences

In addition to the direct consequences of the disaster on marine animals, the indirect effects – linked to the ingestion and inhalation of hydrocarbons – are themselves more difficult to estimate. ” We are only just beginning to understand these long-term effects with the leak of the Deepwater Horizon, more than 10 years later. “, admits the director of the OWCN. A study published in 2020 showed the presence of pollutants in the bodies of some 2,500 fish collected from the Gulf of Mexico (Pulster et al., Scientific Reports). On the Californian beaches, the authorities estimate the duration of the cleaning operations at several months, even several years.

In the immediate future, the public is asked not to touch the stranded animals but to warn the professionals trained in this type of situation, equipped with suitable protective clothing. The care network dedicated to wildlife makes its 1,600 agents available to help as many birds as possible. The 30 Million Friends Foundation salutes their courage and determination!


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