Officials calling off rescue of Bay Area birds covered in mysterious goo

Thursday, January 22, 2015
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Officials are making a change as of Thursday morning with regard to the seabirds that have been turning up dead along Bay Area shorelines, covered in a mysterious goo.

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) -- Officials are making a change as of Thursday morning with regard to the seabirds that have been turning up dead along Bay Area shorelines, covered in a mysterious goo.

Officials say the emergency is over. Whatever ended up in the bay has dispersed and no more is coming in.

Volunteers will not be searching the shorelines anymore, looking for birds. Time, temperature and exposure have taken their toll. Officials don't think they would find any live birds.

"There are lots of dead birds, unfortunately. We just can't get at them and we can't put volunteers and employees at risk to go into the mud to go get a dead animal. It's just too much of a risk," California Department of Fish & Wildlife's Andrew Hughan said.

They saved 300 birds this week and found 200 dead ones -- all of them covered in a mystery substance.

PHOTOS: Rescue teams pull seabirds covered in unknown substance from Bay

"There are some birds out there that are soiled. They managed to get away and are hopefully going to be able to live and the stuff will wash off of it eventually. There's only so much that we can do as a state agency, and there's only so much that the volunteers can do," Hughan said.

Now the focus is on two labs in Sacramento where officials are trying to identify the substance.

Scientists still puzzled by gooey substance killing Bay Area birds

They have ruled out oil and the shipping fuel additive polyisobutylene.

"We are all waiting for the lab and we are all curious, like everybody else, to what this really is because we've never seen it before. It's a really interesting phenomenon," Hughan said.

Officials say it's taking a long time to get the lab results because they want to get it right. They don't want to rush science.