This is the second in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.
Today’s featured finalist is Jay Holcomb, the Executive Director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC). Coincidentally, Jay is down on the Gulf coast as we speak, preparing to lead his organization’s efforts to clean up oiled wildlife from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Jay has dedicated the last 24 years to seabird rehabilitation and oiled wildlife response. He began as a volunteer responding to California oil spills in the 1970s and ‘80s, and since then Jay has led IBRRC’s oiled wildlife rescue team on over 200 oil spill responses around the world, including spills in France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Estonia, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands.
During the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, Jay directed the wildlife search and rescue program in Prince William Sound, and managed the entire 6-month rehabilitation program, which cared for over 1,600 birds.
Then, in 2000, he oversaw the rehabilitation of 21,000 oiled African penguins in South Africa, one third of the entire world population of that species. More than 90% of the penguins were successfully returned to the wild, making it the largest and most successful oiled bird rehabilitation program ever mounted.
Here’s a video of Jay cleaning a storm-battered Pelican at the IBRRC:
If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the other finalists and cast your vote!