Dozens of rescued animals caught in an oil spill near Santa Barbara are being treated by clean up teams in San Diego.
Animals including birds, elephant seals and sea lions have all been treated by volunteers and workers from the Oiled Wildlife Rescue Centre and SeaWorld’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network after an underwater oil pipe burst pumping out over 2,500 barrels of petroleum into the sea next to Santa Barbara’s Refugio Beach.
On Saturday, one sealion was reported dead despite the best efforts of workers of the SeaWorld team to treat him at their centre in San Diego.
Now there are fears that other animals could suffer the same fate if not reached in time.
"The birds that we've seen so far have come in completely coated with oil," said Dr. Christine Fiorello, an Oiled Wildlife Care Network veterinarian. "They can't move. They can't forage. They can't fly. They can't dive. So yeah, they would die pretty rapidly if they were not cleaned." The full extent of the number of animals affected by the oil spill is not yet fully known but experts said that it could take months to fully clean up the coast and assess the full damage caused by the slick.
The SeaWorld rescue team had said that they have had to help hundreds of stranded seals and other animals along the coast this year already but said the oil spill has stretched rescue teams even further.
Jodie Westberg, team leader at SeaWorld’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network, said: “We have already been rescuing an unprecedented number of seals so far this year and then all of a sudden and OWCN gets activated and these team members that have been working for months saving and rehabilitating almost 900 sealions are asking 'what can we do to help?'”
An estimated 101,000 gallons of oil found its way into the sea off Santa Barbara coast after the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured open on 19 May.
It left a 10-square-mile slick killing thousands of fish, nine pelicans and one sealion so far.
Many experts have advised Plains All American to take up a number of collective measures to correct the line and clean the surrounding area.
Plains All American announced late on Monday that they hoped to have the broken section of the pipeline removed for investigation by the end of the Tuesday.Reuse content