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Death toll in oil spill rises to 44 birds

An oiled grebe receives a pre-treatment before being washed at a UC-Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network primary care facility in San Pedro on October 9. Photo by OWCN/UC Davis

In the aftermath of the oil spill along the southern California coast, the official death toll for birds has risen from 10 last Thursday to 44 by Monday night.

Also since Thursday, the number of oil birds recovered alive has risen from 25 to 28. The numbers of dead and recovered wildlife are updated daily on this page

The dead birds include 18 from undetermined species, 9 Brandt’s Cormorants, and 4 Western Gulls. The others are:  Western Grebe (2), American Coot (2), Red-Footed Booby (1), Eared Grebe (1), Black-crowned Night-Heron (1), Brown Pelican (1), Buller’s Shearwater (1), Acorn Woodpecker (1), unidentified duck (1), unidentified falcon (1), and unidentified pigeon (1).

Meanwhile, the Center for Biological Diversity said it plans to sue the Biden administration if it does not immediately reexamine the offshore oil industry’s threat to California’s endangered species and their habitats. The nonprofit claims that the government’s existing Endangered Species Act analysis failed to predict or plan for an oil spill as big as the ongoing disaster in Southern California’s San Pedro Bay.

“The Talbert Marsh, a 25-acre-wetland along Huntington Beach where 80 species of birds rest during their long migrations south, was covered in oil,” the CBD said in an email. “After walking near Talbert Marsh, one of our scientists said the beach smelled like a gas station. His shoes were ruined, covered in tar. It will take years before we know the full damage to wildlife.”

Photos of recovered birds

Here are a few photos of grebes being cleaned and cared for after the spill.

Photo by OWCN/UC Davis

An oiled grebe recovered from the Orange County oil spill site receives pre-treatment by OWCN responders at an OWCN primary care facility on October 8.

Photo by OWCN/UC Davis

The grebe is washed in a plastic tub at an OWCN primary care facility. 

Photo by OWCN/UC Davis

Formerly oiled grebes swim in a recovery pool at an Oiled Wildlife Care Network facility in San Pedro. 

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