Busan Spill May Have Wiped Out Certain Ducks

Annual Audubon society count only turns up one surf scoter

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009  |  Updated 11:45 AM PDT
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Busan Spill May Have Wiped Out Certain Ducks

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The surf scoter population in the Presidio decimated over a year after the Cosco Busan spill

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The Audubon Society's annual bird count turned up only one duck at the Presidio National Park in the latest sign of the lingering effects of the oil spill from the Cosco Busan freighter in 2007.

The surf scoter, a common North American species which lives in coastal regions, is normally quite abundant. But bird watchers only found one during the annual census.

Surf Scoters usually number in the hundreds and speculation is the precipitous drop in their population may be the result of the November 2007 oil spill in the bay.

The ducks, which spend most of their life floating atop coastal waters, were heavily affected by the fuel spill which spread along 118 miles of coastline.

The California Department of Fish and Game found 1,081 live birds affected in the aftermath of the spill, and 1,859 dead birds, including many surf scoters.

Last month, California Attorney General Jerry Brown sued the owners, operators and pilot of the Cosco Busan seeking to recover clean-up costs related to the accident.

A federal lawsuit and criminal charges are also pending against Pilot John Cota and Fleet Management, Ltd. which operated the ship.

Jackson West can't find anything funny about this.

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