Special Reports

Save Our Seabirds talks rescue efforts

MANATEE — Images of oil-drenched birds flashed on a screen as about 15 people at the South Florida Museum listened to a specialist with a local bird rescue organization speak Wednesday night.

“We can respond in a couple of hours whereas BP might take a day or two. We set up. We’re not worried about getting paid for it,” said Shawn Smith, outreach and education specialist for Sarasota-based Save Our Seabirds Inc., as he described immediate bird rescue efforts through the use of a mobile unit. “That’s what we’re here for. We’re a nonprofit.”

While the organization has responded to other oil spills, so far they have not become involved in the latest spill involving BP in which millions of gallons continue to spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

“They have not asked us to come,” Smith said, noting that several local governments, including Sarasota, have plans in place to use the nonprofit should oil begin washing on the shore.

Emily Beltran, 18, of Bradenton, attended the meeting to learn more about potential local cleanup efforts and requirements for rescue workers.

“I feel more people should be stepping up because it’s all of our fault,” she said, citing everyone’s demand for oil.”

Smith told Beltran a 40-hour hazardous materials training class is required with additional training depending upon the job selected. The costs for that training can range between $200 to $400, he said.

“It was a little bit of shock,” she said after hearing the price. “But for me, it would pan out because I want to go into animal rehabilitation.”

Smith was the first key speaker for a series of five science lectures at the Bishop Planetarium Theatre, 201 10th St. W., entitled, “Think and Drink.”

The events are held on the second Wednesday of each month, with next slated from 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 11 entitled, “Why Do We Disagree About Climate Change?”

For more information about Save Our Seabirds, call (941) 388-3010, e-mail at sosinclf@wildblue.net or visit www.saveourseabirds.org.