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New Carissa, 1999
  PREPARATIONS CONTINUE TO TOW THE NEW CARISSA
  UNIFIED COMMAND CONFIRMS EARLIER REPORT OF VESSEL CONDITION
  HELICOPTER ACTIVITES UNDERWAY TO PREPARE FOR NEW CARISSA'S TOW TO SEA
  NUMBERS ESTABLISHED TO REPORT OILED WILDLIFE, RECEIVE CLEANUP TRAINING
  CREWS COMPLETE PREPARATIONS TO NEW TOWLINE, EXPECT TO MAKE CONNECTION TOMORROW
  ESTIMATED NUMBER OF BIRDS IMPACTED BY OIL FROM THE NEW CARISSA REPORTED
  CREWS EXPECT TO SPEND MORNING CONNECTING TUG AND BOW OF NEW CARISSA
  SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS SOUGHT BY THE UNIFIED COMMAND INDICATES OIL ON BEACHES MAY BE FROM NEW CARISSA
  BOW OF NEW CARISSA BEGINS TO TURN TOWARD SEA
  BOW OF NEW CARISSA FACING WEST
  EFFORTS TO REFLOAT BOW OF NEW CARISSA WILL CONTINUE EARLY TOMORROW MORNING
  REMAINING WESTERN SNOWY PLOVERS RELEASED FROM REHABILITATION IN COOS BAY
  BOW OF NEW CARISSA BEGINS TRIP TO SEA
  COMMERCIAL SHELLFISH HARVESTING AND RECREATIONAL CLAMMING REOPENED IN YAQUINA BAY
  BOW OF NEW CARISSA TRAVELS 40 MILES DURING FIRST DAY AT SEA
  TUG SEA VICTORY AND BOW OF NEW CARISSA MAKING GOOD PROGRESS
  NEW CARISSA MIDWAY TO FINAL RESTING PLACE
  BEACH CLEAN UP EFFORTS CONTINUE
  UNIFIED COMMAND BEGINS IMPLEMENTING PLAN FOR STERN OF NEW CARISSA
  OFFICIALS DECIDE ON PLAN FOR SINKING BOW OF NEW CARISSA
  NAVY DESTROYER DAVID R. RAY ARRIVES AT SINKING SITE
  BOW OF NEW CARISSA SINKS TO RESTING SITE
  OIL SKIMMER OREGON RESPONDER DOES NOT FIND OIL AFTER BOW OF NEW CARISSA SINKS
  OVERFLIGHT OF NEW CARISSA RESTING SITE FINDS VERY LITTLE OIL

REMAINING WESTERN SNOWY PLOVERS RELEASED FROM REHABILITATION IN COOS BAY

Coos Bay, Ore., March 7, 1999 1830 hours

Coos Bay, Ore. - Biologists this morning released the 10 snowy plovers that remained in rehabilitation in Coos Bay and will continue to monitor the birds until the first week of September.

"The release went perfectly. The beach was clean, there were no disturbances on the beaches, and the birds settled in well," said Carole Hallett with Turnstone Environmental Consultants, a company contracted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to help monitor and trap snowy plovers affected by the New Carissa spill. "We're grateful to everyone at the rehab center that took such good care of them, and to the people who cleaned up the beaches. This is a team effort and there's a lot of people working hard to make this successful."

The western snowy plover is listed as threatened on the State and Federal Threatened and Endangered Species lists, and only 97 were counted during the 1998 breeding season on the Oregon Coast.

Seven other snowy plovers were released from rehabilitation Friday, February 26. Biologists have seen four of them in recent days. Two are still in the same area, one has found a mate and one has joined another flock. After it was released, the bird that found a mate was seen limping for several days with a tarball stuck on its foot. The bird is no longer limping and seems to be doing well.

Biologists will monitor the plovers every day. In about 2 weeks, they will begin monitoring the entire coastal western snowy plover population during their breeding season, which runs through August. Since the western snowy plover is a threatened species, the Oregon Natural Heritage Program has monitored their breeding seasons since 1990. The Oregon Natural Heritage Program is contracted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

"The biologists who monitor the birds will also be vigilantly checking for tarballs on the beach," said Hallett. "Tarballs may wash up on the beaches for some time, and snowy plovers could become oiled again."

All the released birds were banded, so they can be easily tracked and monitored in the future. They were released in an area that was restored as part of the emergency habitat restoration effort implemented by the Unified Command to minimize the effect of the New Carissa oil spill and removal operations. Snowy plovers need open sand for nesting, so restoring their habitat involves pulling out non-native plants, such as European beachgrass, that can completely cover the open sand.

"Before the birds were released, they were doing fine, they were eating well and they were maintaining their body weight," said Dr. Flo Tseng, a staff veterinarian with the International Bird Rescue and Research Center. "We don't know if they'll be successful in breeding this season. We just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope they do as well as plovers not affected by the spill."

Other updates on wildlife affected by the New Carissa incident:

  • A total of 144 birds have been through the International Bird Rescue and Research Center set up in Coos Bay.

     

  • Of the 144 through rehabilitation, 123 had visible oil on them.

     

  • 312 birds have died since the New Carissa first spilled oil in Coos Bay on February 8. 139 of those had visible oil on them. Biologists still must perform post-mortem exams to determine the cause of death of the other 173.

     

  • Some individuals on the beaches may spot seal pups. A seal pup may be left on the beach by its mother while the mother feeds at sea. This is normal and not a sign that the pup has been abandoned or is in distress and in need of assistance.

     

  • It is very important that the pups not be disturbed or harassed in any way. When they are seen, they should be reported so that warning signs can be posted to keep people away. Reports can be made to (541) 563-7507 / 7508 / 7509 for the attention of the Wildlife Unit Leader.

     

  • If an individual sees a seal pup with oil on its fur, they should call (541) 563-7614 to report the seal's location.



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