SeaWorld oil cleanup team ready to help Santa Barbara oil spill - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

SeaWorld oil cleanup team ready to help Santa Barbara oil spill

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - SeaWorld has been on standby and is ready to take in any animals that may be affected by the oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast.

Birds are covered in oil and whales have been diverted from swimming into the spill. It's still too early to tell just how devastating Tuesday's broken pipeline will be for wildlife along Santa Barbara's shore. 

SeaWorld's Oiled Wildlife Care Center can handle up to 200 sea birds at a time. Once the animals arrive at SeaWorld, they will undergo a full physical assessment.

"They look at their eyes, their plumage and skin because as you can imagine, petroleum products are also very caustic. If that oil reaches their skin, it can cause burns," said Kim Peterson.

Kim is one of more than 100 SeaWorld staff members trained in oil spill responses, and she said it takes two to three people to handle one bird.

It can take up to 45 minutes to an hour to go through the wash process, and if the bird is quickly recovered and treated, the survival rate is very high, according to Peterson.

Kim said the recovered birds need to rebuild their strength and restore their waterproof coat before they are released by into the wild. She said that can take up to a week or more.

SeaWorld is unsure if they will receive any animals from the oil spill, but even if it does not, its employees will still get plenty of practice.

SeaWorld's oiled wildlife care center can also handle up to 20 marine animals.

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