Plenary Opening Abstracts
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Building an On-ramp for the Next Generation of Wildlife Responders
John "JD" Bergeron
International Bird Rescue
The modern era of oiled wildlife response began a half century ago. While many of the leading voices and experts are retiring from the profession, fewer oil spills mean less experience is available for newcomers. Furthermore, there are still untouched regions of the world with high risk which have little to no wildlife expertise that could be trained up. This plenary will explore the opportunities and challenges in front of us as professional oiled wildlife responders.
Oil Spills Affecting Birds in California 1995-2019:
A 25-year Review
California Department of
Fish and Wildlife
Since 1994, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network has been responding to oil spills in conjunction with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response. Responses include documentation of animals affected, providing useful information for large-scale assessments. We compiled data on birds affected by oil spills in California over a 25-year period, 1995 to 2019. During this time, there were 33 oil spills at which 10 or more affected birds were collected, and >13,000 birds were collected during responses to these spills. We reviewed spill details (type of product, source of the spill, and spill locations) and impacts to birds over the 25-year period. The greatest number of birds were impacted by bunker fuel oil spills, and spills were geographically clustered near major ports and areas of oil production. More than 125 different species were affected by these spills. Species collected in the greatest numbers were Common Murre (Uria aalge; >5,500 birds), Western/Clark’s Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis/clarkii; >1,100 birds) and Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata; >900 birds). The species collected during the greatest number of unique spill events was American Coot (Fulica americana; 19 spills). Dabbling ducks and other freshwater waterbirds were collected alive more often than dead, whereas small alcids and pelagic birds were more often collected dead. Information on bird species affected by spills and types of spills affecting birds is important in understanding the relative vulnerability of various species and can help us in planning prevention and response actions.
The toxicology of Deepwater Horizon oil in vertebrates:
synthesizing an unprecedented amount of data from one oil contamination event
After the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, government agencies, academic institutions, consultants, and nonprofit organizations performed lab- and field-based studies to understand the toxic impacts of the oil. Lab tests were performed with a variety of vertebrate cell lines, fish, birds, and turtles (as well as invertebrates); field biologists studied fish, birds, turtles, and marine mammals; and epidemiologists carried out observational studies in human populations. Eight years following the spill, scientists and resource managers held a workshop to summarize the similarities and differences in the effects of DWH oil on vertebrate taxa and to discuss remaining knowledge gaps about oil toxicity in wildlife and humans, building upon the cross-taxonomic synthesis that began during the Natural Resource Damage Assessment. Across the studies, we found consistency in the types of toxic response observed in the different organisms. Abnormal stress responses and adrenal gland function, cardiotoxicity, immune system dysfunction, disruption of blood cells and their function, impacts on locomotion, and oxidative damage were observed across taxa. These consistencies suggest conservation in the mechanisms of action and disease pathogenesis. From a toxicological perspective, a logical progression of impacts was documented: from molecular and cellular effects that manifest as organ dysfunction, to systemic effects that compromise fitness, growth, reproductive potential, and survival. From a clinical perspective, adverse health effects from DWH oil spill exposure formed a suite of signs/symptomatic responses that at the highest doses/concentrations resulted in multi-organ system failure.
Plenary Closing Abstracts
What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been:
The GOWRS Project
Oiled Wildlife Care Network
While the concept of an international collaboration of oiled wildlife response organizations has existed in different formats for decades, the most recent inspiration for a formal collaboration, the Global Oiled Wildlife Response System (GOWRS) Project, was conceptualized during the Interspill conference in 2012 and funded by industry through the Oil Spill Response Joint Industry Project (OSR-JIP) beginning in 2015.
The purpose of this Project has been to define and develop the infrastructure of a global system for oiled wildlife response that is informed by international best practice and is based in collaboration to develop a shared legacy from the experiences and learning of the wildlife response community as a whole and to achieve the necessary level of active support, engagement and preparedness of government, industry, and other stakeholders.
Activities of the GOWRS Project has focused on six ‘bands’: Governance, Operational System, Animal Standards, Readiness, Education & Outreach, and Wildlife Response Plans. In the six years of active Project activities, the eleven involved organizations have developed standards and structures that have improved international cooperation on oiled wildlife preparedness, as well as encouraged the development of wildlife preparedness by industry and other stakeholders.
This presentation will provide an overview of the key outcomes and deliverables of the two phases of the GOWRS Project, and will detail the transition of GOWRS from a Project to an operational Service for assessment services in international Tier 3 events through Oil Spill Response Limited’s Service Level Agreement.
The Only Constant in Life is Change
Looking Back at How We Have Changed Since the First EOW
In this presentation Curt takes a look back at EOW conferences through the years, then hosts a panel of people who have been there.