Gullets and Monkeys

– originally published on “The Recovery Room” 27 May 2010

It was an excitement filled day here in the south. My visit to the Fort Jackson oiled bird BRPE wash.jpgcare facility near Venice, LA coincided nicely with the washing of a stabilized brown pelican.

I found out from Rebecca Dunne, the facility manager, that our large, gulleted friends are calmer in the presence of humans than most other birds that have been involved in this spill. That’s why there are zillions of photos of pelican washing floating around the web, and nearly none of their other compatriots. Perhaps it’s due to their size, as they are nearly as tall as I am from beak to butt and have a six foot wingspan on average. This cool demeanor forced me to wonder why the southern sub-species was nearly wiped off the face of the planet. Southern brown pelicans were declared an endangered species in 1970. It turns out that pesticide residue (our old friends DDT and PCB’s mainly) in their food supply (fishies) caused them to produce eggs with thin shells. Thus, when a momma pelican nestled down on her eggs to incubate, they would crack under her conspicuous weight. Their numbers dropped throughout the 50’s well into the 80’s where they started to see a recovery and were de-listed just last year.

3 amigos.jpg

After leaving Fort Jackson I cruised on down to Venice to see what was shakin’ at the marina. Action. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser were hosting a press conference right on the dock so I stuck around – like a good little press monkey – for that. You can read all about it tomorrow when the conference will be plastered all over the world wide web. There were media outlets from as far as China and Germany on the scene. CNN’s James Carville and his wife Mary Matalin were part of the operation as a guest speakers. Their entourage of three helicopters was quite a scene. The breeze was nice though, as sultry jumps right into smothering in the direct sun with no air movement. Jindal.jpg

In the newest BP developments, they started the “top kill” procedure today and said they should know if it’s going to plug the leak by tomorrow. In the mean time, you can check out more photos from my running about on my Flickr page.

Thanks for reading and good night.


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