Thursday, May 13, 2010
Clean up teams from across the area have been complaining that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was slow to act in replacing the dwindling number of terns, gulls, turtles, and other gulf creatures they had been using to sop up the growing volume of crude oil that was spewing into gulf waters at the rate of over 210,000 gallons a day.
Their demands appear to have been answered as pet shops from across the country mobilized and shipped hundreds of truckloads of parakeets, cockatiels, and box turtles. The first delivery of these super absorbent creatures is expected to arrive by the end of the week.
Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry, the Coast Guard’s on-scene coordinator for the Louisiana oil spill disaster, expressed gratitude to the nation’s pet industry for providing the much needed mopping up resources.
“Petco and PetSmart have been superb corporate partners in the response to this tragedy,” said Admiral Landry. “We ran out of ibis and marsh ducks earlier this week so this couldn’t come at a better time.”
Crews on site may actually find the clean up to go a little quicker as the small songbirds that will be available, such as parakeets for example, are one-time use, easy to handle, and are disposable.
“The larger birds work great. I mean you can wring out a pelican and reuse it a couple of times but they are really heavy and, frankly, it’s been tough to find any around here lately,” said Roger Woolsey, a volunteer from nearby Gulfport. “Parakeets and budgies are excellent because they can fit in one hand and you know that you’ve sopped up as much as they’ll take when they stop chirping.”
Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins are apparently great oil collectors also, as evidenced by the large sea turtles washed up on the shores of the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts this week. But with the absence of any available live sea turtles since the weekend, crews were thrilled to have thousands of box and mud turtles at their disposal.
“I don’t know where it goes, but these little guys can ingest up to twice their weight in petroleum products,” said Woolsey. “Now we can get some serious clean up done.
As the oil spill disaster continues to loom, Admiral Landry expects they will need to tap into more cleaning resources and has requested that other animals be shipped in. Within the next couple of weeks, sea otters, seals, and northern sea birds will be captured and brought in from Prince William Sound in Alaska.
“Those little guys did such a great job during the Exxon Valdez spill,” said Admiral Landry. “We thought we’d give them another chance to be in the spotlight.”