When Jimmy Buffett got a call from two friends with an idea for a new kind of animal-rescue boat, the performer immediately agreed to help.

Mark Castlow, a boat builder in Vero Beach, Fla., sketched out the plans with a friend after hearing about the oil spill in the Gulf and how it was affecting the wildlife. Together, they created a boat that can traverse the shallow breeding grounds of estuaries and rescue animals in need.

Unfortunately, they needed $43,000 to turn their idea into a reality — which is where Buffett entered the picture. "I called Jimmy, and he says: 'Let's go for it. Let's do it,' " Castlow told USAToday. "He's like all of us. He's got saltwater in his veins."

The boats, called S.W.A.T. (Shallow Water Attention Terminal), are needed because they can navigate through waters as shallow as 10 inches — as well as keep birds cool with an on-board misting system and full sun-blocking canopy. SWAT boats will also be equipped with a camera system so that researchers and the public can view the activities on the Internet.

Buffett decided to donate the first one to his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, and their Gulf Coast Research Lab. It's expected to arrive sometime this week and be put into service immediately.

Together with his partners, Buffett will build three additional boats for use in the Gulf — with more orders possible if the need exists.

via USAToday

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Jimmy Buffett funds new Gulf wildlife rescue boat
Singer becomes the latest celebrity to lend a hand to animals and ecosystems impacted by the spill.