LDWF continues search for oil, oiled animals

Staff reports

BATON ROUGE – Marine biologists at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Grand Isle research lab continue to record and prepare deceased marine mammals and sea turtles for oil contamination testing.

Staff there is sending injured animals to the Audubon Aquatic Center rehabilitation facility in New Orleans to be treated and tested by specialists.

In Grand Isle, both permanent and temporarily stationed LDWF Enforcement agents and marine biologists embark on daily patrols in search of oil and potentially contaminated wildlife.

Agents and lab personnel conduct daily patrols on Grand Terre, Grand Isle, Grand Isle State Park, Elmer’s Island and Fourchon beaches. Other teams throughout the state are focusing their efforts on Lake Calcasieu, Holly Beach, Johnson’s Bayou, and the Venice and Hopedale areas, among other important areas of interest.

As soon as an animal is spotted rescuers radio its location so that transport can be set up as needed.

Reports of oil or oiled wildlife from other parties involved in oil spill activities are also investigated.

“Any animal that’s stranded anywhere from the Texas/Louisiana line to the Mississippi/Louisiana line is considered potentially oiled,” said Mandy Tumlin, the LDWF biologist who oversees the rescue or recovery of marine animals along the Louisiana coast.

“It may not exhibit signs of external oiling…which is why we do various sampling,” said Tumlin.

To obtain samples for testing, the exterior and mouth area of the injured or deceased animal is wiped with sterilized gauze. Deceased animals are measured, weighed, tagged and labeled, and then frozen and transported to the Audubon rehab facility, working in partnership with LDWF for the rescue effort, for necropsy.

“We have multiple biologists out on the vessels with our enforcement agents who are out doing patrols daily. We’re working together as a complete team through the department,” Tumlin said.