Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oil Spill in California

Oiled Surf Scoter at Rodeo Beach

This morning there is more news on the oil spill I referenced yesterday in Loose Feathers. The discharged fuel oil is not confined to San Francisco Bay, but has oozed out along the Pacific coast. The extent of the spill may be partly due to the slow response of the Coast Guard.

Rescuers are trying to help injured birds before they succumb to poisoning or hypothermia.
The biologist was one of dozens of volunteers who fanned out Friday to try to protect sensitive wetlands threatened by a creeping mass of fuel oil that poured out of the container ship Cosco Busan when it hit the Bay Bridge on Wednesday.

A giant, luminescent plume moved north along the coast all day, depositing foul-smelling sludge on beaches from Fort Baker in the Marin Headlands to Stinson Beach. The coastal inlets along the headlands were a disaster area, with ooze staining the rocks and sand. Dozens of birds were covered with the stuff, including a red-tailed hawk found in the hills above Sausalito that apparently had attacked an oiled seabird. ...

Rodeo Beach, a popular surfing spot and a favorite location during the winter for a duck known as the surf scoter, was particularly hard hit by the spill. But the plume did not stop there. The slick washed what National Park Service officials called "bowling-ball-size globules" onto Muir Beach, and oil was reported as far north as Red Rock Beach, next to Stinson Beach.

Chris Powell, the spokeswoman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, said the Coast Guard and National Park Service staff were determining what areas are in the most danger and which sensitive habitat is in need of protection.

"The lagoons at Rodeo and Muir beaches are considered highly sensitive areas," Powell said. The Coast Guard labeled Rodeo Beach in particular as a "high-priority area."
The Oiled Wildlife Care Network put out a call for birders to check less-traveled parts of the Bay Area and report oiled birds. See Creek Running North and Born Again Bird Watcher for details.

Surf Scoter Being Cleaned / REUTERS/The Chronicle/Pool