Audubon Magazine Previews Its Oil Spill Coverage

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For Audubon magazine, a leading publication for nature and environment stories from around the world, the Gulf oil spill disaster is an all-hands-on-deck story.

"We've had many meetings trying to figure out how to handle it because we've never had to cover a disaster on this scale," says photo editor Kim Hubbard.

Last month editors decided to send her to help document the story, because "I could stay longer than if we hired a freelance photographer," Hubbard explains. She shot from dawn until dusk for two consecutive weeks. "I took 10,000 pictures," she says. "It was the saddest thing I'd ever seen." (more images after the jump)

Particularly difficult, she says, were the oil-soaked birds and other wildlife she photographed. Hubbard was granted access to the oiled wildlife rehabilitation facility of Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research in Fort Jackson, Louisiana. Shown here are some of the images she shot there.

Until last Tuesday, Hubbard says, five or six animals were arriving at the facility each day. Last Thursday, 53 animals arrived.

""The numbers are going through the roof," Hubbard says. "I don't know how they're going to handle it."

The problem is that the staff at the facility must be specially trained to handle not only wildlife, but hazardous materials because of the toxicity of both the oil and the dispersants BP has been using to break up the spill. And the rehabilitation is time-consuming: it takes a team of three people about an hour to de-oil a pelican.

As more oil washes ashore and into wildlife habitats, the flow of images showing the adverse effects on animals will no doubt increase. That is likely to spur volunteers and donors seeking to help (and galvanize public opinion against BP). Already, Audubon has signed up 13,000 volunteers and opened a national volunteer center in Mississippi.

More of Hubbard's wildlife rescue images are posted here and here. Audubon will publish extensive coverage of the oil spill disaster in its September issue.

The magazine has also posted information here about volunteer opportunities and other ways citizens can help.

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An oil-soaked brown pelican refuses to eat

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Specially trained wildlife rescuers begin the process of cleaning a pelican.

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A rescue worker checks on a gannett that is recuperating after being cleaned.

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