Bay Area Rescuers Respond to Gulf Oil Disaster

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    Duane Titus, codirector of WildRescue in Moss Landing, is on the front lines of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

    The environmental impact from the April 20 BP oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico is severe and getting worse everyday as thousands of gallons of oil continue to gush into the water.

    When the call for help to clean up the Gulf region went out around the globe, rescuers from the Bay Area jumped into action.

    Gulf Oil Spill Update: HD Imagery and Projected Path

    [BAY] Gulf Oil Spill Update:  HD Imagery and Projected Path
    From NBC Bay Area's Rob Mayeda: Gusty winds and rough surf pushed the oil slick over some retention booms and sloshed some areas of light crude on wetlands areas in Louisiana. The majority of the heavier crude products (see map) remain offshore, with lighter crude (showing up well in the HD imagery as the lighter colored areas) nearing the LA, MS, AL coastline. Here is a summary of the efforts to attempt to contain the spill boundary from NOAA:Engineers are working to inject dispersants at the oil?s source - 5000? below the surface. If successful, it could reduce or prevent an oil plume from forming at the surface. Drilling of a relief or cut-off well started today, but it will take several months to stop the flow. Work also continues on a collection dome at the sea floor; this technique has never been tried at 5000?. Very high winds and rough seas curtailed surface operations, such as skimming and applying dispersant by aircraft. Hundreds of thousands of feet of boom have been deployed to contain the spill, with hundreds of thousands more staged and ready to be deployed.NOAA efforts have included: modeling the trajectory and extent of the oil, getting pre-impact samples surveys and baseline measurements, planning for open water and shoreline remediation, supporting the Unified Command as it analyzes new techniques for handling the spill and starting Natural Resource Damage Assessments (NRDA). * NOAA?s National Weather Service displayed radar data at central command today so the command could see where thunderstorm activity was moving and receive warnings immediately. * A forecast decrease in winds should allow the full spectrum of surface operations starting tomorrow. NOAA?s Emergency Response Division (ERD) creates the oil trajectories that response planners rely on. * The Coast Guard is using forecasts and graphics of oil movement prepared by NOAA?s Emergency Response Division (ERD) and Marine Charting Division to keep mariners out of oil areas by depicting them on electronic charts. * NOAA?s Assessment and Restoration Division (ARD) completed additional baseline sampling in Gulf Islands National Seashore in conjunction with NOAA Restoration Center, National Park Service and Florida Department of Environmental Protection staff. * Natural resource economists from ARD also drafted plans to systematically survey recreational users along the Gulf Coast about their use of areas affected by the spill. (Published Monday, May 3, 2010)

    Duane Titus, the codirector of WildRescue, was one of the first volunteers at the front lines of the disaster. The group is based in Moss Landing but responds to wildlife in need throughout the West Coast and now, in the Gulf Coast.

    Titus and his colleagues from International Bird Rescue flew to New Orleans 10 days after the explosion to help prepare for  wildlife affected by the oil spill. Since then, they have set up triage and care centers all along the damaged region and helped organize and distribute supplies like animal kennels and metal bins that will become baths for oiled birds.

    Volunteers have also been building wooden bird boxes to get ready for some of the larger patients, like pelicans, expected at the impromptu care facilities.

    By Monday, Titus was in Pensacola, Florida, helping to set up another triage facility in that area.

    So far, Titus and the other responders have just been setting up for the birds and other wildlife expected to be impacted from the disaster. The weather has played a major role, however, and is hampering early rescues as volunteers have not been allowed to search for troubled wildlife.

    The weather is also adding another factor to the difficulty of survival. Oiled birds are more likely to suffer from hypothermia as they battle wind and rain.

    Titus is working alongside others from Tri-state Bird Rescue and with a group International Bird Rescue Research Center from Cordelia, who also headed to the Gulf region to help respond to the disaster. The group's director, Jay Holcomb, is an expert in oiled wildlife and oil spill rescues, and is leading the rehabilitation efforts in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

    Titus is blogging about his efforts and is keeping a good record on his Facebook page. He updates frequently and invites people to follow his story.