The first day at the Dubai Star Spill

It was a beautiful morning today, nice bike ride through Davis to my office, only to be interrupted by the dreaded call later in the morning that an oil spill of unknown amount had just occurred in San Francisco Bay.  The rest of the morning (and afternoon) was a blur of springing to action, packing supplies that we might need, hooking up a boat, notifying people, and heading out down the highway to the Coast Guard Island in Alameda.  A command center had been set up at the Coast Guard station and by the time we arrived there at around 1230, it was bustling with activity.  Phones lines were being installed, computers set up, and tables established with different components of the response teams.  Yvette Hernandez, Don Ballard, and I reported in and were soon in discussion with Laird Henkel who is the Wildlife Branch Director for California Department of Fish and Game’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response.  We were joined by another network group, PRBO Conservation Science, who provided two of their outstanding seabird biologists, Russ Bradley and Meredith Elliot, to help with wildlife recovery operations.

Russ and Meredith went out and searched shoreline segments around Alameda for oiled wildlife while Yvette and Don hitched a ride on a CDFG boat and searched for evidence of oiled animals out on the water.  One of the complicating factors that we face is that the Bay Bridge is closed.  That will complicate our search efforts on the other side of the Bay.

As of 1730 today, we had one report of a possible oiled Brown Pelican near Alameda but our teams did not see any oiled wildlife.  Tomorrow, we will expand our efforts with three additional search teams from International Bird Rescue and Research Center.  Let us hope that we continue to find no oiled wildlife; however at 2100 the command center at the Coast Guard Station was still bustling with activity.

– Nils

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