Environment & Science

Rehabilitated pelicans return to wild after oil spill

Volunteers and staff of the International Bird Rescue use a toothbrush and soap to clean oil off a brown pelican  in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles, California on May 22, 2015, who was rescued after being covered in oil from the  Refugio Oil Spill.
Volunteers and staff of the International Bird Rescue use a toothbrush and soap to clean oil off a brown pelican in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles, California on May 22, 2015, who was rescued after being covered in oil from the Refugio Oil Spill.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Ten brown pelicans waddled out of their cages and into the surf of the Pacific ocean, slowly stretching their wings and taking flight.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the once oil-covered pelicans were released Friday after three weeks of cleaning and care by a team of scientists in Los Angeles.

The birds were among hundreds of animals damaged last month when a pipe owned by Plains All American Pipeline ruptured and spilled more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil along the Santa Barbara County coast.

The first creatures to be released after treatment, the pelicans are leading a flock of more than 100 rescued birds and mammals who will return to the wild in coming weeks.

Five of them were equipped with small solar-powered satellite trackers.