Interview with Pelican from One Pelican at a Time by Nancy Stewart
Oh, I’ve known those girls since they were babies. Both of their parents used to bring them to the beach and let them splash in the gulf. I loved watching them. They were so happy. I think they liked watching me, too. See that piling? That’s my home, and they knew they could always find me there. Yes, I’ve known them all their lives.
Did you know a spill had occurred in the gulf?
I heard about it the morning after it happened. People all over the beach were talking about it. I remember I even had a hard time fishing, because I was trying to listen to them discuss it. They sounded very serious. One man even pointed at me and said, “Guys like this one are going to be in real danger.” Gave me the chills, I can tell you.
When did you begin to see oil?
It’s funny, because Britt and Bella saw it, and then I did. You’d think it would be the other way around, since pelicans have such sharp eyes, but that’s not how it went down. No, I saw them looking at something in the shallow waves. They were frowning, something those girls never do! And then they ran away and came back with the ranger. I knew we all were in trouble.
I never understood why you dove right into the oily water. Can you tell us?
Well, even with our great eyesight, the oil is difficult to see from a pelican’s viewpoint. It just looks like calm water, and that’s great for fishing. And the rest, as you humans say, is history.
Did you think you’d ever come up after diving into the oil?
I was very scared and didn’t know what to do. But I did come up and saw Bella and Britt. I tried to call to them, but the oil would not let me do anything. I was helpless. Then the girls disappeared, and I panicked. I’ll admit it.
When did you know you’d be saved from the oil, and how did you feel?
Wow. What a question! I saw a boat go out, and the girls were next to it. I just knew they were going to get me. Those girls. I guess I always knew the three of us were a team. When the man from the bird sanctuary threw the net over me, I felt like one lucky bird! All I wanted to do was thank everybody. And when Bella and Britt helped wash my feathers, I just knew all was going to be fine!
You’re back home on your piling now. Any thoughts before I let you go?
Yep, I do. Just want to thank everyone involved in my rescue—and in the rescue of so many of my friends and family. I wasn’t the only one, you know. Many of us fell victim to the same fate and, sad to say, some didn’t make it. But I want to give a special call of thanks to Britt, Bella, Dan the umbrella man and the others who saved my life. Let’s learn from this terrible disaster, and never let something like this ever happen again.