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Animal Rescue: Aquarium of the Americas Cleanup Crew Prepares to Help Oil-Soaked Wildlife

captureSo far, seven sperm whales have been spotted in oil infested water, but the Coast Guard says the whales don’t appear to be in distress. ABC26 News’ Laila Morcos reports that same oil will wash into the marshes along the Louisiana coastline putting even more animals in danger.

Michele Kelley, the Animal Training Coordinator for the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, is bracing for a few busy months.

“Each day was constantly trying to get geared up for the possible, inevitable thing of having stranded animals,” Kelley says.

Kelley says there’s no way to know how many oil slicked or stranded animals teams will rescue and rehab.

“My main concern is obviously the sea turtles and then the dolphins and whales that are in the Gulf of Mexico right now that quite possibly be swimming in it.”

Another concern: pelicans and sea birds. If the oil reaches marshes, the impact will be seen even more: “Your alligators, your reptiles. Also, be possibly concerned about river otters.”

Kelley and other rescuers across the Gulf Coast are ready to take animals beginning Friday morning.

While showing ABC26 News a typical turtle cleaning station, Kelley is reminded of a television commercial: “Not to make light of a tragic situation, but if you remember that dawn dishwashing commercial? ‘Dawn fights grease and takes it away.’ well in this case, that is the truth.”

Kelley says everyone involved is doing what they can to contain the leak — but the outcome doesn’t look good — possibly not until the fall.

“Then, the residual will be done. We’ll have the animals, we’ll have them rehabbed, everything taken care of.”

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