Photo by John Schreiber.

A rescue effort to save some baby birds from drowning in Long Beach Harbor continued Tuesday, with around 500 chicks saved so far.

According to officials at Aquarium of the Pacific, the Elegant Terns formed a colony on two barges in the harbor, but the chicks keep falling into the water. Because they have not fledged, meaning they haven’t grown into their adult watertight feathers, they drown unless they are pulled from the sea.

“Staff members from the aquarium have been going out on their boat daily to retrieve chicks from the water,” aquarium officials said, while also asking people to keep their distance from the barges and reduce speeds when boating in the harbor.

Staffers in the Aquarium of the Pacific’s boat are picking up an average of about 35 chicks each day.

“Our work isn’t done yet,” said JD Bergeron, CEO of International Bird Rescue in San Pedro, which is working with the Aquarium, Oiled Wildlife Care Network and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “This seabird crisis requires quick minds and strong hearts to do the best for these impacted birds.”

Bergeron said about 500 chicks have been rescued so far. Once the wet birds are on the boat, they are transported to the groups’ clinic in San Pedro, where they are hand-fed and rehabilitated before they can be released back into the wild.

The San Pedro group said the rescue event started after the colony was disturbed over the long Fourth of July weekend, which included a major fireworks show at Long Beach waterfront.

They plan to mark some of the rescued birds with a temporary color identifier to track their progress.

The number of rescued tern chicks at International Bird Rescue far exceeds the group’s normal caseload of patients, and all the organizations involved in the effort are asking the public to contribute donations to help feed and house the chicks by visiting birdrescue.org/help-terns.

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