Something else learned during the Apollo rescue was how to train the penguins to take fish freely from their hands, using these training boxes.
And we used this technique again during the Treasure rescue. But an interesting thing was noted during the training process.
The first penguins to make that transition to free feeding were the ones that had a metal band on their wing from the Apollo Sea spill six years earlier. So penguins learn from previous experience, too.
So all of those penguins had to have the oil meticulously cleaned from their bodies.
It would take two people at least an hour just to clean one penguin. When you clean a penguin, you first have to spray it with a degreaser.
And this brings me to my favorite story from the Treasure rescue. About a year prior to this oil spill, a 17-year-old student had invented a degreaser.
And they'd been using it at SANCCOB with great success, so they began using it during the Treasure rescue.
But partway through, they ran out. So in a panic, Estelle from SANCCOB called the student and said, "Please, you have to make more!"
So he raced to the lab and made enough to clean the rest of the birds.
So I just think it is the coolest thing that a teenager invented a product that helped save the lives of thousands of animals.
So what happened to those 20,000 oiled penguins? And was Silvia Gaus right?
Should we routinely euthanize all oiled birds because most of them are going to die anyway?
Well, she could not be more wrong. After half a million hours of grueling volunteer labor, more than 90 percent of those oiled penguins were successfully returned to the wild.
And we know from follow-up studies that they have lived just as long as never-oiled penguins, and bred nearly as successfully.