Birds fly into focus at February oil spill science seminar

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the site of the first oil spill science seminar of 2019—attendees will gather at the Louisiana Department of Fisheries and Wildlife (LDFW) on February 28 to spend the day learning about a variety of topics related to oil spills and birds. Birds & Oil Spills, a Sea Grant oil spill science seminar in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is free and open to the public. Attendees will hear talks on everything from toxicological effects of oil and impacts to marsh dwelling and migratory species to immediate and ongoing response, rehabilitation, and monitoring efforts.

Not near Baton Rouge but still want to tune in? No problem—this seminar will be live-streamed for those who want to watch remotely and videos of the talks will be posted later on the seminar page. Whether you plan to watch in-person or online, you can register for the event here.

Event organizer Emily Maung-Douglass of Louisiana Sea Grant said, “Birds are a fascinating, eye-catching, and integral part of any ecosystem. They can even play into local and regional economies as some species are a big draw for ecotourists.”  Event co-organizer Barret Fortier, a USFWS senior wildlife biologist at  the Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex, added, “The Louisiana coast is vital to some of the largest concentrations of colonial nesting birds and sea birds in the Gulf. Understanding the impacts that large scale spills can have on coastal bird populations is of utmost importance.”

Emily and Barret have invited experts from multiple sectors – academic research, veterinary pathology, natural resource management, oil spill response, and other areas of avian expertise – to answer attendees’ questions about the many ways oil spills can impact birds.  “Recent research in Louisiana saltmarshes indicates that the birds there hold uniquely important connections to many other types of marsh animals and plants,” Emily said. “Given this kind of information, it is vital that we enhance our understanding of and promote more conversations about the impacts of oil spills on birds.”

As with all full-day oil spill seminars, registered attendees get a free lunch, but it comes with a small request from Emily: “We ask that attendees carpool as possible, and also bring a reusable water bottle and coffee mug for use during the seminar. Attendees who do this will be rewarded knowing that they minimized their footprint (and number of parking spaces used!) – and they will also be entered in a raffle for some Sea Grant swag.” So call a friend for a ride, grab your mug, and come on over to the LDFW office at 2000 Quail Drive in Baton Rouge to spend a day learning something new with Sea Grant.

Featured image: Rehabilitated pelicans released back into the Gulf of Mexico (USFWS)