Mexican Delegates observe SeaWorld San Diego drill

Stakeholders from Mexico got a firsthand glimpse of California’s oiled wildlife response program, as their country develops its own program for Baja California.

A group of Mexican delegates toured the annual Oiled Wildlife Care Network’s (OWCN) full-deployment drill, which took place at SeaWorld San Diego on Jan. 31.

Staff from OSPR, the OWCN and the United States Coast Guard (USCG), provided a tour to a dozen people from different Mexican groups. The Mexican delegates represented staff from the Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas, the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, the Mexican Navy and PEMEX (Petróleos Mexicanos).

“The main goal of this tour was to share with our Mexican neighbors a front-row view of how we respond to oiling events that affect wildlife in California,” said Kyra MillsParker, Deputy Director of Field Operations at OWCN. “For several years, the OWCN and OSPR have been working with various interested groups in Baja California to assist with the development of an oiled wildlife plan for that region.”

The delegates looked on as more than 100 drill participants from 18 of OWCN’s member organizations participating in the drill based on a scenario of a large spill along the San Diego County coastline.

OSPR executives lead the tour while a staff member served as an interpreter.

The group got to observe wildlife field operations, stabilization, and care and processing. The delegates also toured the incident command post, giving the delegates a sense of where the major decisions of a response are made.

Staff from OSPR and the USCG also learned how Mexico responds to oil spills. For example, Mexico’s primary source of oil spills is from their expansive pipeline network as they don’t have much tanker traffic.

So far, interested groups in Mexico are still in the discussion phase of their county’s response to oiled wildlife on the Pacific side of Baja California. Staff from OSPR, the OWCN and the USCG will continue to support their Mexican counterparts as they develop an oiled wildlife plan that meets their country’s unique needs. Because oil spills and wildlife do not know country boundaries, it makes sense that both countries work together towards a mutual goal: protecting each other’s natural resources and wildlife.