Mon, Jun 26, 2006
As If Pilots Didn't Have Enough To Worry About...
If you fly out of a
seaside airport, you'd best be on the lookout for some nefarious
ne'er-do-wells. They're big, they have a taste for fish... and they
may be drunk. They're pelicans... and four of the large birds are
in custody in Southern California on suspicion of being drunk,
after one of them flew into a car's windshield as three of its
similarly addled brethren looked on.
Authorities say all four of the California brown pelicans were
intoxicated -- not on beer, but fermented algae.
Turns out when certain types of ocean algae are eaten, they can
produce a condition called domoic acid poisoning.
Fortunately for the pickled pelicans, they're all recovering --
even the unlucky bird that hit the car is recuperationg from a
broken toe, and a gash in its pouch -- but while we may approach
the issue with some humor, domoic acid poisoning can be a serious
problem for all concerned.
After all, if an intoxicated bird can hit a car... it can also
strike an aircraft inflight.
The problem isn't rare, either... as shellfish tainted with
domoic acid is thought to be the culprit behind a 1961 attack of
seabirds on people and cars in the oceanside town of Capitola,
California... a scene that later inspired Alfred Hitchcock to make
the classic horror movie, "The Birds."
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