Hi All – Please enjoy the guest blog written by Tiffany Fisher from SeaWorld. One of the OWCN’s primary care facilities for oiled marine mammals is the Oiled Wildlife Care Center (OWCC) which is housed at SeaWorld in San Diego. The OWCC was activated for primary care of oiled marine mammals during the Refugio Incident, and has been staffed with well trained SeaWorld employees. – Becky
With things finally slowing down here at the OWCC I wanted to give everyone a recap of how things are going here on the marine mammal side of things. Thus far, we have received over 40 animals to care for from the Refugio Beach Incident, mostly California Sea Lions, but with 6 Elephant Seals, and 1 Harbor Seal as well. Many of the young sea lion have been arriving very thin and extremely dehydrated.
Since the spill started those of us that have been through the training have been completely immersed in the “oil Spill world.” For most of us here, this is our first spill. I have to say it is definitely harder doing the “real thing” than just doing the trainings and webinars! In the beginning we were receiving multiple animals in each and every day and we were quickly running out of space at the OWCC. So we got creative and went to the store and bought some large outdoor livestock pens, and those have been amazing. The OWCC was quickly transformed into a lean mean marine mammal cleaning machine!!
The cleaning process went really well for the marine mammals. We used the pre-treatment on some of the tough tars spots and then an all over body scrub. All the animals got to soak in a nice warm bubble bath! Most of the animals we received just required one wash but some with more stubborn oil spots received two or three washes.
After getting cleaned at the OWCC and deemed “clean” by our vet team, we then transported the animals over to our Stranded Animal area. While unfortunately we weren’t able to save all of the animals, it is great to walk by there now and see how much progress many of them have made.
Overall working on the marine mammal recovery side of the oil spill has been such a rewarding and learning experience. I have worked with our beached animal program before but adding the oiling element makes it much more of a challenge. We have had so many hard working animal care staff working long, hard hours to take care of these animals that were affected by the spill, as well as all of our staff performing the many necropsies for those animals we could not save.