Gulf Spill: how you can help

4 05 2010

Pelicans, terns and gulls on Breton Island, LA. Oil containment booms are visible in the water. (AP photo)

SEANET acts as a link between seabird science and the concerned, conservation-minded citizens who love the oceans. It comes as no surprise then, that many people are looking to SEANET for information and advice about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Since we know that our volunteer corps is made up of people who see conservation as an active pursuit, we know too that our volunteers are likely to want to help in the wake of this environmental catastrophe.

For those of you considering a trip to the Gulf coast to try and help, I encourage you to do so within specific parameters. The wildlife assistance aspect of the spill response is being provided by Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research. All individuals and groups wishing to help with the response must be coordinated through Tri-State. Tri-State’s first priority has been to recruit wildlife professionals and paraprofessionals (veterinarians, vet technicians, wildlife rehabilitators etc) and to focus first on recruitment within the Gulf states from Texas to Florida. If you are such a professional, you can contact Tri-State’s Paraprofessional Coordinator at fw4ppc@fws.gov or to 404/679-7049 and leave your name, your qualifications, and your approximate dates of availability.

If you are not a wildlife professional or paraprofessional, you can register to volunteer at  Gulf of Mexico- Deepwater Horizon Incident . You can also donate to help Tri-State with their rescue and rehabilitation efforts by visiting their site through the link above.

For Seanetters in the Gulf Coast area, or anyone finding herself along the shore down there, all oiled wildlife calls should be directed to the Wildlife Hotline at 1-866-557-1401 so they can coordinate recovery/rescue.

Regardless of whether you can go down to the Gulf to help or not, all Seanetters are contributing to the response simply by continuing to do beach surveys. Some of our Florida volunteers are likely to see at least some measure of the direct impacts of the spill in the coming weeks, and SEANET has been asked to provide beached bird data from the region. If we are to be of maximum utility in this case, and in future spills, we must maintain a data base of the best possible scientific robustness. So wherever you are, Seanetters, keep up the good work, consider upping your walk frequency to twice monthly or even weekly (if you can maintain that frequency throughout your continued involvement with SEANET, of course) and be vigilant about your adherence to our methodology.

We are hopeful that, though SEANET’s presence in the Gulf has been limited up to this point, we might be able to expand our network and contribute to the ongoing assessment of the impacts on marine life there. We know that the effects of this disaster will not soon fade from those shores, if they ever do. Thanks for all you have done and continue to do, Seanetters.

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