The Saudi government is trying to save flocks of migrating birds from the fate suffered by the thousands of birds already killed by the sticky goo of the world's biggest oil disaster.
One idea under consideration is the use of jets to push birds in flight to the south, away from the spill area off northern Saudi Arabia."I don't know if this is feasible, but I know that they're trying," said Prince Abdullah Bin-Turki, chairman of the royal commission in charge of this port's development.
Three major species affected by the spill - black-necked and great-crested grebes and the common cormorant - are migratory varieties that follow the Persian Gulf north as winter draws to a close.
"Every day there will be hundreds, now thousands, which go north and go straight into the oil - and there's nothing to stop that," said Peter Simons, a Belgian ornithologist working for the Saudi National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development.
The oil working its way southward down the gulf is actually three spills.
The allies say one spill - the world's biggest at about 460 million gallons - was created when Iraq deliberately pumped crude into the gulf from the Sea Island Terminal off Kuwait.
A far smaller spill was caused by a U.S. attack on Iraqi tankers, officials say. The third spill, its cause unknown, is believed to be farther north.
Prince Abdullah said the oil is "crawling along our coastline" and is due to arrive in Jubail in three to five days.
"This oil spill will be going around the gulf for months and years in a big way," he said.