As the first waves of coagulated crude from the Deepwater Horizon explosion site oozed into the wetlands of the Mississippi River Delta this morning, a young northern gannet made headlines across the globe.
Wide-eyed and drenched with petroleum, the bird was picked up by volunteers from Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, a Delaware-based organization with experience assisting avian populations affected by oil spills. Soaped up and scrubbed down, the gannet, one of the first animals affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster to be caught on camera, will likely recover thanks to the quick work of dedicated volunteers spurred to action by this crisis of national significance.
As coastal Louisiana braces for months of recovery after last week’s oil spill, the region will demand assistance from companies and the federal government to cope with this ecological disaster. In addition, it will require the time and support of people across America interested in helping the communities of southern Louisiana to deal with the damage at their doorstep.
Organizations like the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) have begun mobilizing volunteers for what will likely be months of cleaning oil-soaked shorebirds and clearing crude from vulnerable habitats. No experience is needed to participate, though people with training in veterinary medicine and hazardous waste management are especially encouraged to contribute to the relief effort. If you are not planning to travel to Louisiana in the near future, you can also donate to initiatives on the ground by visiting the websites of the aforementioned organizations and others coordinating cleanup activities.
If you would like to volunteer, please sign-up now on the CRCL’s website. Check back here on our blog, as we will post additional opportunities to get involved in the oil spill cleanup over the coming weeks.