Protect Struggling Seabirds from 63-Year-Old Shipwrecked Oil Spill

  • by: Jessica Ramos
  • recipient: California Department of Fish and Wildlife, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Parks Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

On July 14, 1953, heavy fog caused two sister ships to collide, and one sent the other to the depths of the ocean near California's Golden Gate Bridge. It took 30 minutes for the Jacob Luckenbach ship -- and its 457,000 gallons of bunker fuel -- to sink, but it seems to be taking a lifetime to clean up. In mid-December 2015, the oil coating nine birds was linked back to this 63-year-old ship. Four of those birds died.

The Luckenbach has been haunting wildlife, particularly birds, for decades. A 2006 report says that the Luckenbach oil has been responsible for 51,000 bird deaths and eight sea otter deaths from 1990 to 2003, according to the Los Angeles Times.  A massive operation to protect wildlife from the ship's oil in 2002 -- after several "mystery spills" --  collected 100,000 gallons of the fuel, but left some inside of the ship. The ship was supposedly "virtually sealed," but clearly oil still escapes to the surface and endangers birds and sea otters.

How many more decades do wildlife officials need to clean up this mess? How many more birds (and sea otters) need to die? Please sign and share this petition urging federal and California officials to keep the restoration momentum going so that another drop of Luckenbach bunker fuel never hurts another bird again. It's time for this 63-year-old nightmare to be over.


Photo Credit: Jerry Kirkhart

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