Animals covered in oil treated after Santa Barbara spill

SAN PEDRO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Pelicans, sea lions and other animals affected by an oil spill off the coast of Refugio State Beach near Santa Barbara will spend the next few weeks in rehabilitation.

At least six pelicans were taken to a center in San Pedro covered in oil. They are expected to be cleaned and rehabilitated before being released in a couple weeks, said Eric Laughlin with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The process of scrubbing the birds clean is stressful, veterinarian Dr. Christine Fiorello said. Birds covered in oil for a lengthy period can die, because of the effects of the oil on their feathers.

"As soon as something contaminates the feathers, the water can seep in and touch the skin and then the water just pulls the heat right out those birds and that's cold water out there," Fiorello said.

The birds are first treated with a solution that softens the oil, then are moved from tub to tub of diluted Dove dishwashing detergent until all the oil is removed.

Fish and wildlife officials said they also found a dead dolphin, but are unsure if that was caused by the oil spill.

One elephant seal and sea lion affected by the spill are expected to be taken to San Diego for treatment.

Plains All-American Pipeline, the owner of the ruptured pipeline, is picking up the tab for the animals' recovery.

PHOTOS: Oil-covered animals discovered on beaches near Santa Barbara
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