Southern California environment news and trends

A change in flight paths causes slicked birds off Southern California's coast

Bill Bouton/Flickr

The murres might know why they're getting slicked with oil this year.

Oil-slicked birds have been turning up along California's coast over the past several weeks. And it's not because of a spill--they've been slicked by nature. That happens every year. But today in the Los Angeles Times, Tony Barboza connects the dots to suggest why this year more birds might have become coated, and it's not something different with natural seepage from beneath the ocean floor. Barboza reports that the migration pattern of the murres, the birds making their way into rehabilitation centers, may be changing: 

Scientists believe the murre population is growing and expanding south, putting the football-sized birds at greater risk of diving into waters slicked by Southern California's oil leaks, the most significant of which are found in the Santa Barbara Channel near Coal Oil Point, where thousands of gallons of oil seep into the ocean each day.


California coast coughs up oil covered birds

Mercer 9133

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara coast.

According to a new AP report, more than 100 birds covered in oil from the ocean floor have been recovered along the California coastline over the past two months.

“We have never seen this many oil seep Murres at once,” said Jay Holcomb, the director emeritus of the International Bird Rescue center in Los Angeles. Murres are “pursuit diving” birds common to the central California coast. Due to a lack of budget for rounding up birds affected by natural seep, those numbers are gleaned solely from birds brought in by people along Santa Barbara beaches. “Some years we receive even more natural oil seep birds than we do birds from a human-caused oil spill with a responsible party to cover the cost of their care – and, unfortunately, these birds don’t come to us with health insurance.”

If you have an “oiled wildlife sighting,” the IBR asks that you please call (877) UCD-OWCN.