Oakland students raise money for birds contaminated by 'mystery goo'

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KTVU) - At 11 a.m., when students should be in school, 30 kids from Park Day Elementary School in Oakland were at an Alameda Beach. "We're gonna watch birds get released," third grader Flora Breitbard said smiling.

She and her classmates raised more than $600 to donate to International Bird Rescue after they saw birds pulled from East Bay shores covered in mystery goo last month.

"They just found it and they're still trying to figure out what it is," third grader, Lucas Dolan said. He had a message for the party responsible for the mystery spill. "Well, maybe you should try to stop doing whatever you're doing," Dolan said with childhood innocence. "And figure out a way to do it safer, in a more safer way for the environment."

Nearly six weeks after the first contaminated birds were pulled from the Bay, the bill to rehabilitate the hundreds of seabirds brought to International Bird Rescue tops $150,000. "I felt bad for them," Ryder Callow said. "Because they were dying off because of the goo."

The students told their teachers they wanted to help. "We did this fundraiser," Dolan explained. "We brought toys, blankets, towels, and books and we did a big sale."

Thursday they presented an oversized check for $603.30 to International Bird Rescue.

"It's a huge impact because these are kids that are connecting with wildlife," International Bird Rescue volunteer Julia Winiarski explained. "Their care and concern goes far beyond the dollar amount."

The students watched what those donations can do, as seven birds that were injured and rehabilitated at International Bird Rescue were released back to the wild. The kids cheered. One shouted, "Bye, bye birdie. Stay safe!"

None of the birds released was a so-called "mystery goo" bird, but that didn't matter to the kids. "They can just see that their effort makes a difference," their teacher Renee Miller said, "A direct difference."

While the mystery substance has been narrowed down to a non-petroleum based oil or fat, there is still no responsible party to pay the cleanup bill.

International Bird Rescue is relying on donations to treat the "mystery goo" birds.

If you'd like to donate, you can find more information here.