ABSTRACT

Nearly 5,000 2- to 3-month old South American fur seal pups were oiled and/or died as a result of a February 1997, 5,000-metric ton crude oil spill near Punta del Este, Uruguay. After consultation with international experts, the Uruguayan government commissioned small teams (three to five people) of trained military technicians (totaling 30–45 people) who cleaned most of the heavily oiled areas manually using buckets, shovels, small hand tools, specially-treated peat moss, and small driftwood fires. Waste materials were bagged and transported to a mainland facility for treatment. Dead pups were placed into well-marked rocky cemeteries and treated with quicklime. Despite the mortality, the low-technology response was a success because it added no additional injury to the affected populations. Lessons from this international experience are being used to develop cleanup and protection plans for other fur seal rookery areas, including Alaska's ?ribilof Islands.

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