The OWCN staff has been busy the past month preparing to launch a study for part of our in-house research program. Our study is centered on investigating the effects of chemical dispersant and chemically dispersed oil on the waterproofing of Common Murres. A previous study using Common Murre feathers, showed that dispersant did affect the individual feather structure, so phase 2 of our study will focus on the effects on live birds.
This study will examine whether there are any physical effects to the birds, such as feather structure and temperature change, as well as behavioral effects, such as more time spent preening, when birds are exposed to various concentrations of chemical dispersant or chemically dispersed oil. The birds will receive the best possible veterinary care while in captivity, and they will be washed, and released back to the wild as soon as possible.
As always, the OWCN research program is focused on applying the best available science to oiled wildlife issues, and we hope that our results will help to provide sound information for oil spill response personnel to utilize when determining whether to use chemical dispersant at a spill.