Crisis on the gulf: Veterinarians help
Ziccardi, a veterinarian and director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), was initially contacted by Rhonda Murgatroyd, wildlife branch director working for O'Briens Spill Management.
"They were in need of someone to head up marine mammal and sea turtle operations for the spill," said Ziccardi, who is based at the University of California-Davis.Dr. Heidi Stout, with Tri-State Bird Rescue, was already in place to deal with the oiled birds.
"I spoke directly with Dr. Teri Rowles, director of NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program, and she enthusiastically agreed that I should go and assist," Ziccardi said during a quick trip home to California.
In the past month, he and his team have set up four complete primary care centers for oiled turtles three of which can also be used for dolphins — re-worked protocols, developed care guidelines, rescued turtles, recovered dolphins, all while tackling a long list of administrative duties.
Ziccardi and his team have collected both turtles and dolphins. At the end of May, the group found three live, externally oiled turtles (two Kemp's Ridleys and one loggerhead); 12 externally unoiled live turtles (two have since died); and 200 dead externally unoiled turtles. Also, 20 dead, externally unoiled dolphins were collected.
After necropsies on 67 turtles, no oil was noted in or on any of them, according to Ziccardi.
While no UC Davis veterinary students have traveled to Louisiana, Ziccardi said many have contacted him about helping. "If the spill expands, we hope to get additional assistance from key people, and veterinary students from UCD are at the top of that list," he said.
"UC-Davis' Oiled Wildlife Care Network provides annual training to our 29-member organizations and agency partners throughout the state," Ziccardi said. "We also conduct training outside the state as requested, and funded, by other parties, including a comprehensive training program for all marine mammal stranding networks country-wide that was done several years ago."