SAN DIEGO -- Several brown pelicans that arrived weak and malnourished weeks ago are back out in the wild thanks to volunteers and veterinarians.
SeaWorld staff in San Diego released eight brown pelicans Wednesday after nursing the group back to health.
The string of storm systems in December disrupted the feeding pattern for many pelicans up and down the coast of California, according to the vets. SeaWorld normally receives a handful of pelicans needing help each December, but last month, they took in about 30 birds, according to a park spokesperson.
"Pelicans are washing up on the shores and entering the harbors weak, malnourished and dehydrated," said Christy Simeone, supervisor of birds at SeaWorld.
"We give them supplemental vitamins, fluids and then they transition to fish," said Simeone. "We try and fatten them up a little bit and hopefully set them free."
In San Pedro, the International Bird Research and Rescue Center is also playing host to 40 birds, all being nursed back to health for release at a future date. Blood tests and necropsies on those that didn't survive will hopefully determine the exact cause of the influx of injured birds.
"They're just so thin and fatigued and weak," said Erica Lander of the rescue center. "It's causing them to land in these unusual places."
"We're hoping to not only help the birds that are here in care, but to figure out what it is that's going on," said Lander.
For the state's fragile coastal environment, such mysteries raise alarming possibilities. If you find a bird, you can call the bird rescue center's hotline: 866-WILD-911. You can also find out more about the organization at www.ibrrc.org.