SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — SeaWorld San Diego has been placed on stand by and they are prepared to house animals that have been impacted by the oil spill in Orange County.
The last time they helped with this kind of effort was in 2015.
During a news conference Monday, State Fish and Wildlife officials spoke about the efforts to rescue any animals that have been injured by the oil spill.
Officials say at least 125,000 gallons of oil has made its way into the Pacific Ocean, forming an oil slick 13 -square miles in size. With crude oil smearing the coast from Huntington to Newport Beach encroaching on critical habitats and wetlands. This is a result of a leak from an underwater oil pipeline about four and a half miles offshore. So far, crews have collected four oiled birds and have gotten about 300 calls on the Fish and Wildlife hotline, where people are calling in about possible injured animals.
They have teams spread all across the coast, responding to these calls, we’re told four locations including SeaWorld San Diego have been placed on standby to accept animals once they have been triaged.
SeaWorld San Diego says they have a designated center built to care for animals that fall victim to oil spills. It was last used in 2015 when several animals including sea lions and elephant seals were rescued after the oil spill in Santa Barbara. When it’s not in use, the facility is used to take care of other marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds.
Because of the large amount of animals expected from the spill aftermath, each facility will take certain animals.
“Currently, we are preparing to take in any sea turtles or dolphins that might be affected by oil, but potentially, we could take in any marine animal,” said Kim Peterson, Rescue Supervisor at SeaWorld San Diego.
When it comes to cleaning oiled animals, the longer the oil has been on, the tougher it becomes.
“It becomes very thick and tar-like. We actually add oil to the oil on the animal to soften it, and start breaking it down. Then we can add soapy water to remove the remaining oil,” said Peterson.