Mystery Goo Killing Birds in San Francisco Bay

Posted on January 25, 2015

A sticky mystery goo is killing birds in the San Francisco Bay. The substance is said to have the consistency of rubber cement. At least 200 birds have died and over 300 seabirds are being treated to remove the unknown substance which causes the bird's feathers to stick together. A Horned Grebe covered in the mystery goo is being cleaned in the above photograph.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating the substance but so far does not know what the substance is. They were able to determine that it is not consistent with polyisobutylene (PIB).

The SF Gate reports that the fact that the substance is not petroleum-based has International Bird Rescue paying for the clean-up as they are unable to get access to state money. The organization says it is spending over $8,000 a day cleaning the goo-covered birds. Mike Ziccardi, director of the state-financed Oiled Wildlife Care Network at UC Davis, tells the SF Gate, "When it is not a petroleum compound, and it is not readily identified, it becomes more difficult to activate the system because the system was developed for oil spill response."

In its most recent update, International Bird Rescue reports that they have admitted 321 birds. They say the goo mats the birds feathers together. As a result the birds lose their insulation and they become hyperthermic and can die. Baking soda and vinegar are being used to losen the goo from the bird's feathers. They are then washed with Dawn detergent and warm water. A toothbrush is used to clean sensitive areas of the bird, such as around its eyes.

Barbara Callahn, Interim Executive Director of International Bird Rescue, tells CBS This Morning that the mystery substance is harder to get off birds than oil. She says, "This is a very difficult product." Take a look:

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