In October 2007, the Cosco Busan oil tanker left the Port of Oakland to head out the Golden Gate. Due to the captain’s negligence, the tanker scrapped along the northern support tower of the Oakland-Bay Bridge, tearing open a hole in its side and spilling 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel in the San Francisco Bay. Bunker fuel is a viscous and particularly harmful by-product of the oil refinery process. The oil spread out onto the bay affecting much wildlife and especially the many thousands of migrating birds who stopover in the bay for much needed rest and sustenance before continuing their journey south. Oil coats the birds, causing their feathers to lose their temperature regulating abilities. As the birds preen themselves, they ingest the oil, getting very sick, very quickly. Predators sometime eat the injured birds, causing them to get sick as well.

A number of agencies came together to handle assessment, collection and cleanup of the bay and dead and injured animals. Injured birds were brought to the Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Fairfield for medical attention and careful cleaning in an attempt to rescue and release as many as possible back into the wild. The following photos are a few that I captured during the two weeks I volunteered there.  Click on any photo to view larger.

Oil Spill in the San Francisco Bay

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