The SeaWorld Rescue Team is ready to prepare their Oiled Wildlife Care Center for any animals sent from Huntington Beach.
Although they don’t know how much, if any, they will get from the oil spill, but they say they prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Inside the 8,000 square foot center, SeaWorld Rescue Team Supervisor Kim Peterson showed us how they would use what they say is an easy-to-digest formula of electrolytes and fluids to help feed the rescued animals.
Surprisingly enough, cleaning the oil is not one of the first steps in processing.
“They come in very dehydrated, emaciated, or at least very skinny, and we need to strengthen them and bring their hydration back to normal before washing them,” said Peterson.
The last time the center was activated was in 2015 after the Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara.
“It’s extremely toxic,” Peterson said when asked how dangerous the spills are to wildlife. “It burns their skin, their eyes, burns their mucous membranes, burns their waves.”
The process for all animals brought to the center begins in the intake room where they are first assessed.
There is a turtle stretcher there as the main focus of SeaWorld will be to accommodate turtles, dolphins, seals and sea lions affected by the spill.
They also have intensive care unit containers to keep birds warm and prep tables loaded with medical supplies.
Fluid bags are stored to help rehydrate injured fauna in treatment rooms.
Once stabilized and sufficiently resistant, which sometimes takes a few days, the oil is then washed off.
Once ready, they are ultimately moved to large pools or habitats similar to their own to help them re-acclimatize before being released.
“The birds are tidying up their waterproofing. Turtles will just get used to being in the water again after being out of the water. This is all rehab, ”said Peterson.
When the Oiled Wildlife Care Center is not in use for oil spill rescue, it is home to recovering marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds.
The center began in 2000 with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the University of California, Davis.