[photo of Mark Russell and volunteer with bird] A spill of a mysterious oily substance in Monterey Bay during the weekend of October 25 injured hundreds of grebes, loons, and other seabirds. The spill triggered a rescue effort based at the Department of Fish and Game's new Oiled Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center, next to UCSC's Long Marine Lab. Veterinarians, wildlife biologists, and scores of volunteers from Long Marine Lab and the community helped clean the substance from the birds with a diluted solution of Dawn dishwashing liquid. The strange "goo," later identified as something resembling vegetable oil, was not toxic to the animals. However, it coated their feathers, leaving them vulnerable to hypothermia.

Here, Mark Russell (left) of the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Berkeley injected a nutritive concoction into the stomach of one of the birds, held by an unidentified volunteer. After stabilizing the birds at the center, researchers hope to release them back into Monterey Bay this week. Only a few of the more than 400 birds died during the first few days of the rescue operation.

Photos: Robert Irion

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