As a veritable river of oil spurts forth into the Gulf of Mexico from an underwater well at the staggering rate of 210,000 gallons per day, the race is on to contain the flow as much as possible and protect the coastlines. CNN reports that volunteer efforts are underway in Gulf Coast states, and there are many ways for prospective volunteers to help.

The National Audubon Society, Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research and many more organizations are mobilizing to rescue wildlife affected by the oil — knowing that the oil could become a serious environmental disaster.

Below are agencies in need of assistance and what steps you can take:

• The Deepwater Horizon response team is working to contain the spill and has laid down 217,000 feet of barrier. The team is asking coastal residents to report areas where oil can be seen from shore or to leave contact information if they wish to volunteer by calling (866) 448-5816. Oiled animals should not be captured but should be reported at (866) 557-1401.

• The National Audubon Society is coordinating its response with government officials to ensure a smooth process. Prospective volunteers who sign up at AudubonAction.org will be connected with state and federal agencies, Audubon leaders and other volunteer organizations that are in need of assistance.

• Many more organizations are not yet in action but are gathering information from volunteers. Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research is accepting volunteer signups by phone, mail or e-mail as the group prepares to rehabilitate affected animals. Call (302) 737-9543 for more information.

• Anyone in the Mississippi area can contact the city of Biloxi and leave contact information through an online form. Volunteers will be notified as soon as opportunities to help have been organized.

• In Alabama, the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program is collecting contact information from hopeful volunteers. Call (866) 421-1266 to be added to their contact list, report oiled wildlife at (866) 557-1401 and notify them of oiled shoreline at (866) 448-5816. (Note: These contact numbers are the same as the Deepwater Horizon numbers.)

• The Alabama Coastal Foundation is currently accepting donations for clean-up efforts at their website, JoinACF.org. Volunteers should send their contact information including name, e-mail address and phone number to info@joinacf.org.

 Mobile Baykeeper says the best way to help now — before the oil hits the shoreline — is by picking up litter and debris. “If you can get to your favorite shoreline today or tomorrow you can help speed up the clean up process,” officials said. Volunteers will be trained and organized for the cleanup process in the days and weeks to follow; call (251) 433-4229 to sign up.

• The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana has joined with partners on the local, state and federal level to start registering volunteers. Sign up at CRCL.org.

• Updates on cleanup efforts in Louisiana will be posted at the Louisiana Shore Cleanup Facebook page. Under that umbrella is Operation Here to Helpa program of the Humane Society of Louisiana with the goal of surveying the affected areas and providing coordinates to state and federal agencies. 

• The Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida is also seeking donations and volunteers as it prepares for the arrival of affected birds and other animals. Learn more at PensacolaWildlife.com.

• Matter of Trust is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that’s been accepting donations of debris-free pet fur and human hair since 1998 to craft oil-absorbing hairmats. Their website offers instructions for hair donors. (Editor's note: The need for hair boom 

• The Nature Conservancy is seeking donations and messengers. Telling your friends about what's a stake in the Gulf is critical to the group's efforts, according to Conservancy President Mark Tercek.

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