Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater Marine Aquarium 'ready' to help with oil spill if asked

CLEARWATER — If officials at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium are asked to rehabilitate animals injured by a massive oil spill spreading through the Gulf of Mexico, they will be ready to respond, CEO David Yates said Monday morning.

"CMA is in routine communication with Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries on both ends, and we look forward to working with each agency should the oil reach our area, or if they can use our assistance elsewhere," Yates said. "We are fully prepared to go when asked."

No private organization has the authority to perform any rescue without an invitation from the federal government, specifically the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

So far, two facilities in the Panhandle have been activated.

If the federal government activates the aquarium, the Clearwater staff would have to undergo training to care for animals affected by the oil.

"This specific training we're talking about for oil spills, very few people have been trained on that," Yates said. "Nobody in this area has been trained on that. (Those federal agencies) have to come in on their own and say, 'We're going to choose you, you, and you' and they train those individuals or groups."

The aquarium has experience pitching in after catastrophic events, said Danielle O'Neil, the manager of the aquarium's sea turtle program.

After this year's cold spell and the Red Tide outbreak in 2005, the aquarium cared for injured sea turtles.

"We have the ability to take in numerous sea turtles if need be," O'Neil said. "We have a brand new sea turtle rehabilitation area in our back yard."

Abby Stone, the head trainer and manager of the marine mammals program at the aquarium, said information gathered so far suggests that the effect on whales and dolphins might be less than the effect on sea turtles, birds and manatees. They spend less time at the surface, she said.

The aquarium isn't the only local facility equipped to stabilize oil-coated wildlife. The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, a nonprofit avian hospital in Indian Shores, has more than 300 volunteers on standby, spokeswoman Michelle Glean Simoneau said.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium 'ready' to help with oil spill if asked 05/03/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 3, 2010 5:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Mark Bowden's 'Hue 1968' a gripping, and timely, history


    More than 40 years after it ended, America's war in Vietnam is still contentious, still misunderstood, and fast slipping into the fog of history.

     On Feb. 15, 1968, U.S. Marines carry out an assault on Dong Ba Tower in Hue, South Vietnam. In the battle for the tower, six men died and 50 were wounded.
  2. Florida education news: Athletic trainers, signing bonuses, student vaccinations and more


    SAFETY FIRST: Pasco County school district leaders decide to retain high school athletic trainers, which had been slated for elimination, amid pleas from …

  3. Rays morning after: Why Alex Cobb was out of the game and Alex Colome was in


    Alex Cobb obviously did a really good job pitching the first eight innings for the Rays on Tuesday.

  4. Police commander among 6 charged in deadly 1989 UK soccer deaths


    LONDON — British prosecutors charged six people Wednesday in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster where 96 soccer fans were crushed to death.

    Police, stewards and supporters tend and care for wounded supporters on the pitch at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, England, on April 15, 1989. British prosecutors on Wednesday June 28, 2017, are set to announce whether they plan to lay charges in the deaths of 96 people in the Hillsborough stadium crush _ one of Britain's worst-ever sporting disasters. [Associated Press]
  5. Supreme Court term ended much different than it began


    BC-US—Supreme Court, 1st Ld-Writethru,899

    AP Photo WX109

    People visit the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017, as justices issued their final rulings for the term, in Washington.  The Supreme Court began its term nine months ago with Merrick Garland nominated to the bench, Hillary Clinton favored to be the next president, and the court poised to be controlled by Democratic appointees for the first time in 50 years.  Things looked very different when the justices wrapped up their work this week. [Associated Press]