T he International
Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) reports that as of May
23 it has received a total of 62 brown pelicans sickened by
the toxic algae bloom which has been affecting the food chain
for two months.
"It has slowed down to an average of two
birds a day, but the birds are definitely still being impacted,"
said Jeannie Magis, rehabilitation manager of the San Pedro
center, which is treating the birds. "We know the brown
pelican death toll is in the hundreds now", she added,
"but we don't yet know what the impact is on the breeding
population, and the offspring, which are now hatching in the
Channel Islands breeding grounds."
California's Brown Pelicans, which were listed
as endangered in 1971, have received blow after blow to their
existence. Plume hunters, egg collectors, DDT, mass slaughter,
botulism, death from fishing lines and now, their food supply,
which is mainly anchovies and sardines, is poisoned. Staff
at IBRRC are able to save some of the birds with an aggressive
fluid therapy program developed by their veterinarians, but
most pelican's don't reach the hospital in time to be saved.
The poison quickly enters the brain, causing seizures and
Researchers are concerned for the population,
should the toxic algae bloom continue into the summer, when
the young are fledging. "We can only count the birds
that we find dead and those who are still alive when they
come in, but we don't know how many are dying out at sea and
not found. With an endangered species, every bird's life is
precious," Magis observed.
Volunteers are needed to help with the pelicans
and also orphan spring babies that have started arriving.
Anyone interested in helping should attend the volunteer orientation
scheduled for Wednesday, June 5, at 7PM. The center is located
at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center, next
to the Marine Mammal Center, in Fort Mac Arthur Station, 3601
South Gaffey Street in San Pedro, phone 310-514-2573. More
information and directions to the center are on the IBRRC
website at www.ibrrc.org. Donations can also be made on the
Anyone finding pelicans or other birds in distress
should also call the center for instructions, as it is illegal
to keep wild birds and try and treat them yourself.
Brown Pelican/Domoic Acid/statistics:
Since April 17, 2002, 62 brown pelicans have been
brought to International Bird Rescue Research Center's hospital
in San Pedro.
Total birds received alive: forty-nine
Dead on Arrival: seven
Humanely euthanized on arrival: six
Humanely euthanized while in care: fourteen
Died while in care: thirteen
Successfully rehabilitated and released: sixteen
Currently in care: six
Office: (831) 622-7588