While doing our bit to help island businesses yesterday, we witnessed a slowly-unfolding drama (above) in the Sound from the balcony of The Grand Marlin restaurant on the beach. Opened just this year on the site of the old "Boy on a Dolphin" restaurant, The Grand Marlin is a favorite within our circle of friends, a couple of whom are connoisseurs of good food and wine.
Unexpectedly, two people showed up near our table to stand at the railing with binoculars. One was a finely-mannered, fit-looking gentleman of retirement age from California. The other was a lovely young woman from Louisiana. Their singular purpose seemed to be to scan the Sound below.
Intrigued, we left our table to ask what was up. While they continued focusing with singular attention on the Sound below they told us they were volunteers for a nonprofit Wildlife Rescue organization. They've been on the Gulf Coast for over a month, they said, spotting oiled birds and arranging for their rescue.
In answer to our questions, they explained they had been dispatched by their nonprofit organization but have to personally pay their own way. BP has "promised" them eventual reimbursement.
"Good luck with that," we told them.
"Yes," the woman replied with a beleaguered smile. "The receipts are mounting up."
It developed that local officials had received and passed on to them a call from an anonymous person that a pelican with what appeared to be oil stains on its head had been seen balancing on a piling in the Sound near the restaurant. The volunteers, using binoculars, spent fifteen minutes on the restaurant's balcony inspecting each of the half dozen or more pelicans visible among the pilings.
Finally, they saw what they judged might be an oiled pelican, but a closer look was required. They left the balcony to get a closer look from the shore. We watched the silent show unfold from above.
As it happens, a man and a boy of about ten or twelve were drifting along in a small motorboat, fishing among the pilings. The volunteers must have asked for their help, because the man hauled his line in. He didn't start the motor, but instead slowly began moving the motorboat toward the suspect pelican by pulling the boat along by hand from piling to piling so as not to startle the bird.
While the volunteers watched from the shore, it took the fisherman and boy nearly twenty minutes to silently navigate to a point near enough to the bird to see its feathers. The man then signaled back to shore that the bird was normal, after all.
The case was over. There was no victim of BP's crime here. Not today, anyway. The volunteers departed to answer another call and we were left filled with admiration for the dedication of the two volunteers and the ready help offered by a local fisherman.