Sarasota bird rescue on standby to help with oil spill

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Sarasota bird rescue on standby to help with oil spill

FYI - Save Our Seabirds (SOS) is mobilizing.

Sarasota bird rescue on standby to help with oil spill

Gulf businesses wait as oil creeps toward coast

SARASOTA – The group "Save Our Seabirds" is preparing to send a team up north to rescue and clean birds from the Louisiana oil spill, and they're asking the Suncoast for help.

The Sarasota wildlife rehab center says it got notice that the oil could hit Florida's coast as early as Friday.  Save Our Seabirds says it got a call from British Petroleum Wednesday morning to be on stand-by, and that the oil spill looks like it's on a path to hit the Florida panhandle.  Five staff members and 54 volunteers say they are ready to move on a moment's notice.

"Oh, it's got to be done immediately; if we get there too late, it's just going to be over for the bird," says Eileen Devlin.

"Right now, we're still on pins and needles.  We're mobilizing in Wimauma trying to get everything ready.  We don't know what to expect when we get there," says wildlife rehabilitator Nancy Alexander.

They're prepared for the worst.  Previous experience with oil spills has the staff ready to mobilize a difficult rescue mission.  "We have to do each feather and try to get it down to the down feather, so we actually have to really soak them up," says Alexander.

And that requires putting each bird through a series of baths.  "A suds, a rinse, a suds, a rinse, and a suds and a rinse."

For birds like pelicans, cormorants, and sea gulls, oil on their skin can cause hypothermia; and ingested oil is poisonous.  "If they ingest any oil, they have to be treated with charcoal...makes them vomit."

Staff and volunteers are packing Wednesday night to leave at a moment's notice.  But they say supplies are still needed.  "Whether it's clipboards, sheets and towels, rubber gloves…Dawn dishwashing liquid."

And with the right supplies at the right timing, Save Our Seabirds promises to live up to its name.

Devlin says Save Our Seabirds has an 85% success rate with rescuing birds from oil spills.  If you'd like to donate supplies or financially assist this rescue mission, you can drop off donations at the Save Our Seabirds headquarters on city island in Sarasota, or visit