04/13/2015 01:38 EDT | Updated 06/13/2015 05:59 EDT

Rescued Oiled Birds Are "Badly Soiled": Wildlife Rescue Association

It could take up to several weeks before the birds can be released, according to the Wildlife Rescue Association.

Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C.

The Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. says it could be a few weeks before three bufflehead ducks that are "badly soiled" by bunker oil from last week's fuel spill in Vancouver's English Bay can be released.

The City of Vancouver said on the weekend that up to 30 birds could be impacted by the oil that leaked from the grain ship MV Marathassa.

The Wildlife Rescue Association says the three ducks in their care were picked up from Second Beach in Stanley Park. It says the male and two females are "badly soiled" and suffering from severe irritation to their eyes and skin.

Oil can have devastating impacts on seabirds because it coats their feathers and ruins their buoyancy, said spokeswoman Yolanda Brooks. It also affects their ability to thermoregulate.

"The birds become very obsessive about trying to get this stuff off their feathers because they won't survive if they don't get it off," Brooks told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"So they often beach themselves if they're trying to get the oil off their feathers. That leaves them open to predators coming to get them."

Brooks said oiled seabirds are often in shock, and it can take a while to stabilize them before they can be bathed.

The three bufflehead ducks in the rescue organization's care will soon be washed, but since the process is stressful for the animals, it could take between a week to several weeks before they can be released, Brooks said.

To hear the full interview with Yolanda Brooks, click here.


Photo gallery Vancouver Oil Spill, April 2015 See Gallery