Seabird Sanctuary Prepares for Oil Slick Disaster in Tampa Bay

05/03/10 Andrea Lypka
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As the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico moves toward Tampa Bay, volunteers and staff at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary prepare for the worst case scenario.

“We are on standby to assist Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research and we are expected to be called to the triage units. We are still watching the disaster out in the Gulf. I am sure we will feel the effect of this. There are birds out in the Gulf that will end of over here in this area,” Marketing and Public Relations Manager Michelle Simoneau said.

Monday morning volunteer Pat Smith brought in a Northern Gannet bird that alarmed the avian hospital because this bird was the first bird treated for oil poison in Lousiana, Simoneau said.

The sanctuary’s founder, Ralph Heath says that the organization is recruiting volunteers and donations to help injured birds. The avian care staff and volunteers have dealt with an oil spill in 1993 but the recent oil spill is of a bigger magnitude, he says.

“I rather be over prepared than under-prepared,” he said. “According to one of the best reports I saw, this is going to be a complete [environmental] disaster for the entire Gulf of Mexico.”

One of the first volunteers to sign up Monday morning was Andrea College from Tampa.She call for help on the social media was effective.

“I just put out an announcement on Facebook that I was coming out here,” she said.

The community response was overwhelming, said College who dropped off towels and detergent donated by the community in Carrollwood.

The sanctuary is asking for donations such as Dawn Detergent, kennels, towels, water and Gatorade to rescue birds that ingested or inhaled toxic oil. For more information, visit or call 727-392-4291 or 727-254-0577. The North Pinellas Drop-Off Location is located at 3019 Bradford Circle, Palm Harbor, the name of the contact person is Barbara Walker from the Audubon Eagle Watch- 727-431-2856.

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