UC Davis wildlife experts are leading the rescue of oiled birds in San Francisco today after a container ship spilled nearly 60,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel oil into the bay.
Three veterinarians and a veterinary technician arrived at Fort Mason Wednesday to organize the rescue effort and begin treating injured birds.
By 1 p.m. November 8, there were 21 seabirds being treated, all of them surf scoters, according to UC Davis veterinarian Michael Ziccardi, director of the California Oiled Wildlife Care Network.
Jonna Mazet, a UC Davis veterinarian and international authority on the rescue and treatment of oiled wildlife, has said in the past that for every oiled seabird that is found washed ashore, an estimated 10 to 100 birds died at sea.
The UC Davis rescue team is working in a custom-built recovery and rehabilitation trailer. There, they assess the health status of oiled birds that are being brought in from beaches and the bay waters.
Then the birds are put in boxes and driven to the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Cordelia (just outside Fairfield), where they will receive the world's most advanced veterinary care for oiled wildlife.
At the center, the first order of business is not to remove oil from the birds. Instead, it is to warm the birds and nourish them. Once stabilized, they will be better able to withstand the stresses of being washed.