When the going gets oily…

The oily get washed off with Dawn.

We spend a lot of time here at The Otter Project worrying about oil spills and doing our best to prevent them. We’ve spoken out at public meetings and written countless letters to prevent offshore oil drilling in otter range, and worked to keep large tankers and vessels farther offshore and out of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

But otters aren’t the only animals that get oiled, and unfortunately oiled wildlife is a reality of industrial society that must be dealt with.

Wildlife in need has always been a passion of mine, and this year I’ve been undergoing training from the International Bird Rescue and Research Center, to become a volunteer responder in the case an oil spill. The IBRRC is a partner of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, and a leader in the field of oiled wildlife response.

The IBRRC is currently doing a fundraiser with the support of Dawn in which a purchase of Dawn dish detergent earns the Center $1 donation. Its called the Everyday Wildlife Champion program. Dawn really is the soap that is used to clean oiled wildlife. After a series of tests in the 1970s, the IBRRC discovered that Dawn was especially effective, and it’s been in use ever since.

Luckily, we’ve only had one oiled otter recently–Olive, who was successfully cleaned and re-released by the Department of Fish and Game’s Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz.

Oiled sea otter

An oiled sea otter on the beach

Sea otters are like birds in that they’re highly sensitive to oil–just a little bit on their fur can allow water to seep through to their skin, leading to hypothermia and likely death. The same thing happens to birds, whose feathers keep them “waterproof”.

All the more reason to keep the oil out of the water.

About Allison

I am the new Executive Director of The Otter Project in Monterey, California! Originally from the Bay Area, I went to school in San Diego, and came back north to Monterey for graduate school, where I found my calling: saving sea otters! Working for The Otter Project combines my passion for environmental policy with my love of animals. When not advocating for sea otters, I enjoy yoga, volunteer wildlife rehab, reading, and spending time with my cat Alyssa, who, for the record, I did not name. I have been with The Otter Project since November of 2007.
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