Space Coast mystery? Birds covered in oil wash up on Florida beaches

Four common loons have washed up on local beaches covered in oil. Three of those birds have died.

The birds were treated at the Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary.  Two of the birds were found at Melbourne Beach; the other two washed up at Cocoa Beach and Vero Beach. 

“We’re unsure of where they ran into that oil,” Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary Assistant Director Chelsea Goss said. “Most likely when they encountered that oil, they washed ashore pretty quickly after that. So, we’re pretty sure they encountered the oil 24-48 hours before they washed ashore.”

FOX 35 News spoke with the assistant director of the Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary that is taking care of the birds. She tells us three of the four birds found have died.

“One of the birds did come in with a severe wing injury that was not repairable,” Goss said. “It was euthanized when it arrived. The other two were with us for a few days, but have, unfortunately, succumbed with the issues that arise with oiled birds.”

Goss said the oil is very dangerous to the health of the birds. She said it makes it difficult for them to keep warm or even fly. Goss said the oil is not good for the birds if they ingest it.

“When they’re covered in oil, they ingest a lot of that oil, as well, which can do a lot of damage to their internal organs,” Goss said.

The wildlife hospital is asking anyone who sees any of birds or other animals covered in oil to contact them immediately.

“They can’t take care of themselves,” Goss said. “They can’t just walk themselves to a doctor or a vet to take care of them help and to get them the care that they need to get them back into the wild.”

The wildlife hospital and sanctuary did send a sample from one of the birds to the Coast Guard for testing to try to find out where the oil came from.