Huntington Beach Canal Spill – Winding down

Sunday evening and the Recovery and Transportation team from the weekend gets a well deserved break.  We had a team out on Saturday and Sunday from Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center and the International Bird Rescue and Research Center.

Over the weekend, a number of dead birds were found but none of them had any obvious signs of oil.  This is not surprising since winter storms typically lead to peaks in dead seabirds being found on the beaches.  This coupled with the lack of new live, oiled birds has prompted OSPR and the OWCN to place R&T efforts on standby.  Over the next days, OSPR folks will continue looking for oiled birds and if recoverable, live oiled birds are seen, we will have R&T personnel go back out.

In the next few days, I will try to get a summary of the spill out.  In the meantime, I want to especially thank the staff of Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center as well as the International Bird Rescue and Research Center for their great efforts.  All spills, large and small, are tiring to work at, and these people did a great job, as did OSPR personnel and other responders.

- Nils

Huntington Beach Canal Spill Day 7

A week of responding has gone by and today we had our highest total of dead birds brought in.  The R&T crew thinks this is due to the very high tides that we have had.

In total, Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center staff found brought in no live animals but eight dead birds.  This included three Brown Pelicans, two Lesser Scaup, a Pied billed Grebe, a Bufflehead, and an American Coot.

Clean-up crews have been making progress.

We will have a team out tomorrow.

Stay tuned for updates.

- Nils

Huntington Beach Canal Spill Day 5

With all of the rain that southern California has received, the road along the channel is slippery and at least one part of the road has caved in.

However, Debbie and Lisa from the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, along with OSPR personnel, continued to search for oiled wildlife.  For the first time in days, no dead or alive oiled wildlife was brought in to the facility.

We will have people out looking tomorrow since we know that there are still small numbers of oiled birds being observed in the vicinity of the spill.

Stay tuned for updates.

- Nils

Care & Processing Update

As of yesterday afternoon, all but one of the six live birds that have been collected had been washed. One bird that was transported at the end of the day after being stabilized at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center is still receiving care and not yet stable. I’ve attached a picture of a coot being cleaned at the LA Oiled Bird Care and Education Center yesterday. Thanks to Erica Lander (IBRRC) for the photo.


A coot oiled by the Huntington Beach Canal Spill is cleaned (Erica Lander)

Huntington Beach Canal Spill Day 4

Today, with OSPR staff, Debbie and Lisa from the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center searched for live and dead oiled wildlife.  Lisa provided photographs of the spill area so you can see the challenge that they face.

Early in the morning they found a dead, oiled raccoon in the water that either fell in the channel and got oiled or got oiled in other ways.  They spent part of the day with OSPR folks down in the channel in a boat trying to catch a live, oiled American Coot but the water is shallow, there is a lot of boom out, and the bird can still fly.  A bird hazing crew has been busy trying to keep birds and other wildlife out of the oil-affected areas.

So far today, four heavily oiled, dead birds have been located and brought in.

Strategies for tomorrow are still being planned out.

- Nils

Huntington Beach Canal Spill Day 3: Update

Clean up efforts at the Huntington Beach Canal spill continue today as do the efforts by our Recovery and Transportation crews.  Today we had three people out trying to capture oiled wildlife, Debbie and Lisa from the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center and Paul from International Bird Rescue and Research Center.

Today, the crew managed to capture one live oiled Bufflehead (a beautiful, small, diving duck, see picture) and recover one dead oiled Bufflehead.  Our tentative totals are now 6 live birds and 5 dead.

Capture conditions are quite difficult since much of the oiled water is in a steep, metal sided canal where one needs 40 hr HAZWOPER training to enter; also, there is a lot of clean-up activity going on and many feet of boom have been put out to contain the oil.

Rain is expected tonight and tomorrow so we will see how that affects efforts, but a team will be out searching for oiled wildlife.

- Nils

Huntington Beach Canal Spill Day 2: Care & Processing Update

The live bird collected yesterday was a pied billed grebe. The dead birds have not yet been processed. The live bird was stabilized at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center (WWCC) before being transferred late yesterday afternoon to the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center (LAOBCEC) where it is under the care of staff from the International Bird Rescue and Research Center. Preliminary tests conducted this morning showed the bird was stable enough to be cleaned this afternoon. This was successful and the bird is now resting quietly.

Current field conditions have made rescuing affected birds both difficult and potentially dangerous. Despite these challenges, a small number of oiled birds were captured today, stabilized at the WWCC and transferred to the LAOBCEC. More details will be available tomorrow after these birds have been processed and examined.


Huntington Beach Canal Spill: Day 2

Two teams have been activated this morning to provide recovery & transportation efforts at the spill site. Because of access problems and only one skiff available, one team will start on water with the second team provide land-based support.  If it looks as if a second boat will be most helpful, the OWCN will purchase a second one for use to collect any oiled birds.

Yesterday’s operations were successful.  As of last night, one oiled bird was collected alive and three dead birds were reported collected by the field team and clean-up operators.  Because these birds were officially logged in later last night, we don’t have all of the details on what species, whether the dead birds were oiled, etc., but will be providing that info in a later blog today.  All birds are being stabilized (i.e., given first aid) at the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center i Huntington Beach, then transported to the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care & Education Center for primary care.

Keep checking our blog for more info as it develops.  The most recent news release by the Unified Command can be found here.

- Mike

Huntington Beach Canal Spill: Day 1

One OWCN team from Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center began active search and collection this morning, with two more teams (from WWCC and IBRRC on standby).  As of 1230 hrs, while just a couple of oiled birds have been seen, no birds have been collected.  This early in a spill, birds are often active and evade capture well.  Plus, most of the field work (due to it being in a canal) must be done by skiff, which birds can see and avoid more readily.  Capture attempts will continue throughout the day.  Stay tuned….

- Mike