Reponse efforts continue on South Matagorda Island, Mustang island and Padre Island National Seashore

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PORT O’CONNOR, Texas — More than 465 response contractors continued work today along the shores of Mustang and South Matagorda Islands and Padre Island National Seashore, employing conventional clean-up methods with rakes, shovels and buckets. A 9-mile stretch of shoreline along Matagorda Island is a primary emphasis of these crews today.

“Federal and state wildlife agencies continue to be focused on protecting these sensitive areas for the benefit of wildlife and are working closely to coordinate with our partners in the cleanup operations,” said Nancy Brown, Public Outreach Specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. “Everyone’s goal in this effort is to ensure these beaches are restored and healthy for the diversity of the wildlife that depends upon them.”

As of sunset on Wednesday, the Unified Command report that a total of 119,350 pounds of oiled sand and oiled debris has been removed from island shorelines, including 28,525 pounds that was removed yesterday.

Responders work to clean the remaining oil — with pompoms, rakes and power washers — from some of the worst hit parts of Galveston Island on the northeast end near Boddecker Rd. April 3, 2014. Southeast winds pushed oil onto the shorelines facing the Houston Ship Channel as the tides carried oil out into the gulf after a nearly 168,000 gallon spill near Texas City March 22. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Kendrick.

Responders work to clean the remaining oil — with pompoms, rakes and power washers — from some of the worst hit parts of Galveston Island on the northeast end near Boddecker Rd. April 3, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Kendrick.

Updates from federal and state wildlife agencies active in the field show that 77 deceased birds have now been recovered from Padre Island, Matagorda Island and Mustang Island. These include a variety of water fowl and shore birds. Additionally, two deceased dolphins have been recovered along with two deceased fresh water turtles.

It is unclear whether these deaths are directly related to the oil. Tests to make that determination will take several weeks. Throughout the day wildlife experts from Texas Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife were also engaged in monitoring Whooping Crane and other endangered species habitats. There are no reports of impacts on these species.

Persons who observe any impacted wildlife should not attempt to capture or handle them but are urged to call 888-384-2000.

Residents, tourists and others who may observe tar balls are urged to refrain from attempting their own clean-up activities and are asked to call 361-939-6349 to report the exact locations of any sightings. Persons who may be physically impacted by the oil should take quick action to wash the affected area with soap and warm water. The public is discouraged from accessing Matagorda Island until the Unified Command announces that response operations are complete.

Calhoun County residents will have an opportunity to engage members of the Unified Command at an informational session to take place on Thursday, April 3, at the Port O’Connor Elementary School, 508 Monroe Avenue. The session will take place at 6:30 p.m.

County and city officials, their Emergency Management Coordinators, and port officials and state agencies continued to exchange information through daily stakeholder telephone briefings.

The Kirby Inland Marine claims line continues to be available to persons who may have questions regarding personal impacts from the incident. The number is 855-276-1275. Please note that a previously published number is no longer operational.

Click the photo for more pictures of the cleanup operation.

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