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Oil-covered Birds Found in California and England Raise Speculation

By MarEx 2011-07-19 12:18:31

In two incidents this week, five oiled pelicans were found in the Santa Barbara, CA area, and a half dozen dead sea birds coated in oil washed ashore on Chesil Beach near the English channel. 

The U.S. Coast Guard and California state agencies have been investigating how five Brown Pelicans came to be coated in oil in Santa Barbara.  While three of the birds have been rescued by aid of Coast Guard aerial searches, but they did not locate any spill or oil sheen in the waters. 

Similarly, Marine Safety Detachment Santa Barbara’s pollution investigators couldn’t find any spill along the beaches where the pelicans were located.  The USCG contacted local area offshore oil platforms, and all had reported normal oil operations and levels.  Investigations by Californian authorities continue as they send the affected birds to a rehabilitation specialist for seabirds.

Across the pond, BBC reports a grimmer incident with half a dozen sea birds ranging from fulmars, gannets, and guillemots, washing ashore already dead and coated in oil.  The birds were discovered along Chesil Beach on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.  The dead, oiled birds were found by a wildlife photographer, Steve Trewhella, who commented that with ship’s frequently dumping oil at sea, the south west winds blow the oil through the sea.  He also said that whether the birds drifted into the oil or the oil drifted into them, the end result is dead birds at sea.

UK Environment Agency stated that they believed to have collected the dead birds and that if oil remained in the waters, it would most likely quickly disperse.  The spokesman for the Agency added that this is a known practice of nearby ships in the Channel, but it is almost impossible to detect or reprimand those guilty of it.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals urges those who use the seaway not to dump oil and perpetuate the tragedy of harming marine wildlife.  They added if members of the public discovered any live birds affected to contact the RSPCA immediately.