With plenty of media on-hand, pelicans, rescued and cleaned up following the Plains oil spill, were released at Goleta Beach. (June 12, 2015)

Ten pelicans nursed back to health after the Refugio oil spill were released Friday at Goleta Beach. Carted up from a Los Angeles care center, the big birds oiled by the May 19 rupture slowly stretched their wings as they waddled from their cages onto the sand. Five of them were fitted with solar-powered satellite trackers.

After a few minutes, and some quicker than others, the pelicans took off into the ocean and gathered in a bunch about 100 yards offshore. Cheers came from wildlife experts, reporters, families, and UCSB grads gathered nearby.

A team of scientists with UC Davis’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network spent three weeks cleaning and caring for the pelicans. In the coming days, more of the 106 rescued birds and mammals will be released back into the wild; 275 dead birds and mammals have been recovered since the spill. Officials say not all of the animals were killed by the crude. Some likely died of natural causes, they said.


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