CLEANING UP THE SANTA BARBARA OIL SPILL

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Originally Published on the ECOreport

By Roy L Hales

May 28, 2015 (Santa Barbara) - It has been eight days since a 24-inch Plains All American oil pipeline ruptured. Though the pipeline was manually shut down after 45 minutes, approximately 105,000 spilled and 20,000 of that entered the ocean. Volunteers are combing 8 miles of affected shoreline, skimming oil from the ocean, and rescuing wildlife. Close to a thousand people are cleaning up the Santa Barbara Oil Spill.

UC-Davis’ Oiled Wildlife Care Network

Around sixty are connected to the UC-Davis led Oiled Wildlife Care Network.

Six of the university’s staff were attending an oil spill conference in Alaska when they received word. The first of them reached Santa Barbara the next day. The rest of the team deployed as needed over the next few days.

Mike Ziccardi, director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at UC Davis, said “Our role is to rapidly respond to and collect whatever animals are found and quickly get them into veterinary care to maximize their chance of survival.”

In their press release, UC Davis advises the public that:

“It can take days for oiled wildlife to get sick and weak from ingesting oil or getting it on their skin or plumage. For example, oiled birds typically ingest oil when they attempt to clean their feathers, which can affect their immune systems, internal organs and reproductive systems. Oil on bird’s feathers also affects their ability to insulate themselves. As they lose body heat, they become hypothermic, and their need for food increases. Yet, due to the oil on their plumage, they do not float or fly well. Wildlife responders who find them collect them and transfer them them collect them and transfer them to a wildlife rescue facility for treatment.

“Members of the public who spot oiled wildlife should not try to pick them up and “save” them, OWCN urges, as this can cause the animals further harm. Rather, they should report oiled wildlife immediately by calling 1-877-UCD-OWCN.”

Both UC Davis and the Refugio Response Joint Information Center said there has been no changes in the count for animal rescue attempts for almost twenty-four hours.

As of 8 pm, on May 26, 33 live birds and 16 dead birds had been collected. A dozen California sea lions and 6 northern seals were rescued. There were also eight fatalities: three dolphins and five California sea lions.

Ziccardi said there is no correspondence between the size of a spill and the number of animal casualties. Though the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill was only half the size of what has transpired at Santa Barbara, there were 1,068 oiled birds.

Progress In Terms Of Statistics

The last press release from the Refugio Response Joint Information Center explained their progress in terms of statistics: over 10,000 gallons of oily water mixture removed; 310 cubic yards of oiled vegetation, 760 cubic yards of oiled sand and 2,610 cubic yards of oiled soil.

Refugio Beach and El Capitan State Beach are still closed until further notice.

A spokesperson from the Refugio Response Joint Information Center said the oil slick is still spread out for 9.5 miles along the coast and they expect to release a fuller evaluation by June 4.

Photo Credits:

A sea lion is stabilized at Refugio State Beach near Goleta, Calif., on May 24 before being transported to Sea World in San Diego for additional care. A patch of oil is visible on its head. The UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network is coordinating wildlife response for the spill – by Joe Proudman, UC Davis 

Erin Kellogg, left, and Lisa Robinson, right, rehabilitation technicians with International Bird Rescue begin cleaning an oiled brown pelican at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in San Pedro, Calif. on Saturday May 23, 2015. The pelican was caught in the oil spill near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County. Team members from the UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network are coordinating the wildlife response to the oil spill at Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, Calif. – photo by Joe Proudman, UC Davis.