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Where Are They Now?: Ocean Hero Jay Holcomb

Jay Holcomb with a pelican patient.

We are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest! Throughout the nomination period, which ends April 27, I’ll be featuring a few of the past winners and finalists to get you inspired. Last week I updated you on last year’s Junior Ocean Heroes, the Shark Finatics. Today we’re catching up with the 2010 Adult Ocean Hero, Jay Holcomb.

Jay Holcomb garnered the most votes in the Adult category last year for his quarter-century of work rehabilitating oiled seabirds around the world with the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC). In fact, when we announced his big win, Jay was on the Gulf Coast leading the effort to clean up oiled birds from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Since then, the organization has re-grouped. They are still rescuing birds on a daily basis from their home base in California, but Jay’s role has changed. He has stepped down as executive director and colleague Paul Kelway has stepped up. Jay is now the Director Emeritus, which gives him more time to focus on his passion: saving birds.


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New Issue of Oceana's Multimedia Magazine

The second issue of our spiffy multimedia magazine is now available!

This issue, which opens with a video intro by Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless, features the following videos and stories:

*The Gulf of Mexico oil spill and our scientific expedition in the gulf

*Oceana's 2010 Ocean Hero, Jay Holcomb of International Bird Rescue Research Center

*Our huge victory over a coal-fired power plant in Chile’s Punta de Choros

*Ted Danson talks offshore drilling on CNN’s Larry King Live

Check it out!


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On The Cleaning Process For Oiled Birds

Brown pelicans awaiting release at the rescue center. Oceana/Suzannah Evans

Cleaned brown pelicans awaiting release at the rescue center. Oceana/Suzannah Evans

After writing about our visit to the bird rehab center in Louisiana last week, I promised to write a second post going into more detail about the cleaning process for oiled birds the next day. Well, I ended up on a boat for a couple of days, and the week got away from me – so here’s my long-promised update!

Jay Holcomb's International Bird Rescue Research Center is managing the cleaning process for most of the birds taken off the water after the oil spill. So far, they’ve had nearly 600 birds go through the process, mostly pelicans. The space the rescue center inhabits is a large warehouse in the bayou, but they’re already running out of room: While we were there, a worker was building new outdoor cages.

There are no interior walls in the warehouse, which has an assembly-line precision: The birds arrive in pet carriers and are quickly evaluated by a vet in scrubs and rubber boots in one corner known as the medical station, and then they’re placed in plywood-sided compartments with other birds. The birds we saw were all pretty well covered in oil, and in varying states of distress.


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Jay Holcomb Says Thank You

Oceana's 2010 Adult Ocean Heroes Award winner, Jay Holcomb, wasn't able to attend our awards party in LA a few weeks ago - he was too busy rescuing birds affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Last week, he gave the acceptance speech he didn't get a chance to give earlier in front of a large pen full of a couple dozen pelicans whose lives he saved. The birds will be released on the eastern shore of Florida.


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A Visit With Jay Holcomb And Some Oily Birds

brown pelicans yearning to be free

Brown pelicans awaiting release after being cleaned. Photo courtesy Suzannah's iphone.

In a cavernous warehouse in Louisiana’s bayou country, hundreds of oiled birds are getting a chance at survival after the BP oil disaster threatened their lives. Most of them are brown pelicans, Louisana’s state bird, along with some gulls, herons, gannets and terns. Until a couple of weeks ago, there weren’t many birds in this makeshift facility backed up against the Mississippi. But with the oil slick’s expansion closer to shore, the number of birds affected exploded – and the rescue center is racing to keep up.

The center is run by Jay Holcomb, and is primarily staffed by his International Bird Rescue Research Center team. Today, I visited Jay along with Oceana’s pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz, and got a firsthand look at the critical work that Jay and his team are doing.

We were also on hand to congratulate Jay on winning Oceana’s 2010 Ocean Heroes Award. He was unable to attend the award ceremony in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago because he was too busy doing the work of an ocean hero – saving birds in the Gulf.

Here’s a video of Jackie talking to Jay about his work and what happens to the birds after they're released. You can hear the helicopters going out to the spill site overhead.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Jay Holcomb

jay holcomb

Jay Holcomb (left) cleaning a bird.

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.


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