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.
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.
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.