Oil-covered brown pelican transported to Georgia after 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster – KALB News

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(LDWF) The distance is approximately 700 miles as the crow flies. But a brown pelican transported from Louisiana to Georgia in 2010 was determined and determined to cover that ground and return to Bayou State.

And back home, it is.

This brown pelican was covered in oil during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, rescued and cleaned up, then transported and released in Georgia. It was spotted in March on a rocky jetty on Queen Bess Island in Barataria Bay by a biologist from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).

The pelican was tagged “Red 33Z” when it was captured on June 14, 2010 at Empire Jetties in Barataria Bay following the giant oil spill. He was transported to a triage center and then to a rehabilitation center in Louisiana. After that, he was airlifted to a US Coast Guard station in Brunswick, Georgia, and released on July 1, 2010.

“It’s really impressive that he’s come back from Georgia,” said LDWF biologist Casey Wright, who spotted and photographed the pelican last month. The 33Z tag remains on the pelican’s right leg and is clearly visible in the photo taken by Wright. It is not known exactly when the bird returned to Louisiana.

“It is believed that brown pelicans, like most seabirds, are genetically hardwired to return to their birth colony to breed, even though they move long distances during the non-breeding season,” he said. said Robert Dobbs, LDWF non-game ornithologist. “This may be an overly simplistic generalization, but reexamination data from banded pelicans often supports this pattern. ”

The pelican was one of 582 successfully rehabilitated in the aftermath of the spill. More than 5,000 birds, dead and alive, were collected in Louisiana because of the disaster. This represented about 65 percent of bird recoveries throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Brown pelicans accounted for 22 percent of all recoveries. Data suggests that the spill resulted in the deaths of 51,000 to 84,000 birds, and the actual number was likely at the high end of that scale.

The pelican was released in Georgia because it was captured soon after the spill. The birds that were rehabilitated at that time were released outside the impact area, so that they were not at risk of re-entering the oil. The birds have been released in Georgia, Texas and Florida. Other pelicans released in other areas have been spotted in Louisiana.

Eleven birds that could not be released were taken to zoos.

Queen Bess Island, which was heavily affected by the oil spill, is a key colonial waterbird nesting colony that accounts for 15-20% of young brown pelicans hatched in Louisiana in any given year. The island, managed by LDWF as a refuge now, had been reduced to about five acres of available nesting habitat prior to the restoration project in 2019-20. It now has about 36 acres.

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