Please don't touch the birds

Who ever said a little fat was a bad thing? According to local wildlife experts, mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals are fortunate to be coated in blubber, an insulating layer of fat that's helping to fend off oil strewn in the San Francisco Bay since Wednesday's damaging container ship accident.

Seabirds, however, aren't as lucky. Oil soaks into their feathers, preventing them from keeping warm amid the cool temperatures of the bay, said Yvonne Addassi, spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish & Game.

Once that happens, hypothermia can set in.

This morning, 73 birds had been found alive but soaked in oil, according to the Department of Fish & Game. Once the birds are plucked from the oily water or beaches, they are taken to the San Francisco Bay Oiled

Wildlife Care and Education Center in Cordelia, where they are first warmed and nourished before they are washed, according to the University of California, Davis Wildlife Health Center. Surf Scoters and ducks are among the most common birds being rescued this week.

Nineteen birds have been found dead as of 9:30 a.m., the Department of Fish & Game reported.

Seabirds appear for now to be the hardest hit by the spill. Their fellow sea dwellers, such as whales, dolphins, seals and otters, haven't turned up on shores needing assistance, Addassi said. The Marine Mammal

Center reported a day after the spill that, “So far, the Center has not needed to rescue marine mammals as a result of the spill.”

Oil will most likely not affect species living below the water's surface, state officials said.

Wildlife officials urge the public to not approach the oiled birds. To report oiled wildlife, call(877) 823-6926.

— Bay City News

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