When you think of pelicans losing their feathers’ water repellent qualities because they were soaked in oil and the resulting hypothermia, do you think “oil spill”? Deepwater Horizon?
You can also think “fish waste containers.”
Fish oil seems to be the cause of oil contamination in juvenile brown pelicans in Trinidad, California, according to the Redwood Times (Garberville, Cal.) According to the Redwood Times article, lids were put on the fish waste receptacles last year, when the pelicans were getting inside and getting oiled.
While the lids are still there, people are taking them off to feed the pelicans, the article says. The pelicans also stand in the spray of waste water from the fish-washing station, which contains fish oil.
While worrisome and interesting enough to consider pelicans being oiled in fish waste containers, it is also worth considering for other water birds and other sources of oily waste.
Photo: Brown pelican by Lee Karney, courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service