Sea Birds Recuperating After Navy Oil Spill in Bay


More than four dozen sea birds and ducks, caught in a weekend diesel spill from a Navy ship docked in San Diego Bay, were undergoing treatment Monday by both Navy personnel and workers at Sea World.

The spill, which left at least four birds dead, originated Sunday at the 32nd Street Naval Station, where the amphibious assaults ships Tawara and Okinawa are docked.

Navy officials blamed the spill on either a ruptured fuel line from the Tawara, which leaked several hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel into the harbor, or from a fuel spill on the Okinawa.

Residents and security police from the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado rescued and cleaned many of the birds, Navy officials said.


Bill Bartkus, a base public information officer, said residents living in base housing rescued many of the birds, some of which were transported by the Navy to Sea World for further care.

Sea World officials said Monday the 34 grebes and ducks they had cleaned and treated were drinking, eating and displaying normal behavior.

“Currently . . . we’re very pleased with the condition of the animals we’ve received so far,” said Joop Kuhn, supervisor of birds at Sea World.

Gerald Balthrop, a military police officer at the Naval Amphibious Base, said, the spill caused the birds problems, but “I think we rebounded well and took care of a situation that was caused by us.”


Bartkus said the Navy will continue to monitor the situation.

“The good part of this whole thing is that the neighbors were out there a little while ago and the birds were flying away from them. Apparently, there’s no more oil on them and they’re free to move,” Bartkus said.

A Navy oil spill team had completed 80% of the cleanup by late Monday afternoon, Navy officials said.

Oil skimmers were used to clean the spill, which measured a foot wide and stretched a quarter of a mile along the shoreline.