|Photo: International Bird Rescue|
The workers learned quickly not to name the birds. If the bird didn't live, it made it all that much harder for the individuals working day and night to rescue and rehabilitate the thousands of birds affected by BP's negligence and subsequent offshore disaster. The International Bird Rescue's 88-member team worked 24/7 for months to save all birds captured alive. It's their story as well.
As a Southern California native, I have spent a lot of time, hours on end actually, watching and admiring the Brown Pelican that calls southern california home. I loved to watch them dive from the blue sky, straight down into the water to catch their food. Brown Pelican's are the only one of seven pelican species to do that. Cali's brown pelican is the same species as Louisana's brown pelican. But I digress.
As of April 2011, the government website, fws.gov, which tallies the total number mammals, sea turtles and birds affected by the BP Oil Disaster has some very sobering statistics. The number of dead birds collected stands at 6,147. The number of collected birds that were alive and rehabilitation attempted is currently at 3,046. Pelican #895, an adolescent bird, unable to fish or even fly at the time of rescue due to it's age, survived, learned to feed itself and was released back into the wild.
In other words, the documentary has a happy ending..at least for Pelican #895. The total number of birds released back into the wild stands at a mere 1295. Do the quick math and it tells you how many did not make it even though they were picked up alive.
It's important to remember that the Brown Pelican had totally disappeared from Louisiana's coastlines by 1963 due to pesticides and their polluting the waters and the fish of Louisiana.
Irony alert: Five months before the BP disaster, the Brown Pelican was removed from the endangered species list in that region.
When I watched the documentary entitled Saving Pelican 895, I knew it would be gut-wrenching for me. It was hard because I have loved these birds since childhood and I saw first hand what happens to the birds, mammals and sea-life when oil rigs explode and/or their safety mechanisms fail. I lived in the Santa Barbara area when that coastline was fouled by the first ever oil spill in 1969.
Below is a short trailer for the HBO Documentary Saving Pelican 895:
The responsible parties (BP, Transocean) will end up paying for the effects the Deepwater Horizon disaster had on the bird, sea-life and mammal population in and around the gulf..at least..they are supposed to, per federal law. But I am not holding my breath as I feel quite certain they will drag it out in court until the amount of financial damage to their bottom line is as small as possible.
We can only hope the damage they did to the re-population efforts of the Brown Pelican in Louisiana will not be insurmountable.