April 20, 2018 marked the eighth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster that endangered the economies of coastal communities, saturated marshes and wetlands with sludge, and smothered thousands of birds in oil. Despite millions of gallons of oil flooding into the Gulf of Mexico, two surviving pelicans from the disaster recently gave Audubon biologists new hope for the fate of rescued and treated bird victims.
In 2010, two oiled Brown Pelicans were rescued, cleaned, rehabilitated, and banded in Louisiana. The two survivors were then safely released at Fort De Soto Park in St. Petersburg, Florida. The region is home to dozens of Audubon-protected island sanctuaries that provide refuge to more than 50,000 coastal birds including thousands of Brown Pelicans.
Audubon biologists have spotted the banded pelican survivors in recent years at the Richard T. Paul Alafia Banks Sanctuary, which is leased from and managed in collaboration with The Mosaic Company. Biologists believe both are now using the sanctuary to breed- giving reason for hope for the once endangered species. These two survivors serve as a poignant reminder of just how important Audubon Florida’s work is to the region, state, and entire Gulf of Mexico.
The Alafia Bank hosts the largest Brown Pelican colony in the Tampa Bay region and is an important bird nesting island for the entire Gulf. Right now, the Sanctuary is under threat of dangerous invasive trees that are crowding out the native plants that birds need. Audubon Florida secured a matching grant to fund the replacement of the invasive invaders with beneficial native plants. Every dollar Audubon raises is matched $1-for-$1, and more than 200 generous donors have supported restoration work so far. If you’d like to support this good restoration work, visit FL.Audubon.org/SaveAlafia. Be sure to stay tuned to our social media for updates!