‘Vampire Diaries’ Ian Somerhalder Teases Comic-Con, Talks Bird Rescue Efforts: ‘After the BP Oil Spill, I Was Crippled’

“We just released 3 pelicans and a seagull on the beach in San Pedro, back into the wild, and it was so emotional and so cool,” actor and activist tells TheWrap of his work with Dawn Wildlife and the International Bird Rescue

Last Updated: July 10, 2015 @ 7:15 PM

“The Vampire Diaries” has just begun filming its Season 7 – the show’s first without leading lady Nina Dobrev – but Ian Somerhalder took a day off to spend time with some birds and celebrate the work volunteers do to save marine animals.

“We just released 3 pelicans and a seagull on the beach in San Pedro, back into the wild, and it was so emotional and so cool,” the actor told TheWrap Thursday. “You don’t realize how big they are until they flap their wings in front of you and they take off.”

Somerhalder was in the southern Los Angeles community working with the International Bird Rescue (IBR), which has partnered with Dawn Wildlife to release a video series called “We All Love Wildlife.”

“It’s about celebrating volunteers and their story,” he said. “If you’ve ever started a non-profit or work at a non-profit, as I did and do [with his foundation, The Ian Somerhalder Foundation, or ISF], you realize that volunteers are truly the core work group, they’re the core workforce, nothing happens without them. Celebrating volunteers and really allowing them to tell their story is truly important.”

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision for Dawn/AP Images)

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision for Dawn/AP Images)

Dawn and the IBR have a 40 year history together, and in the past 20 years, they’ve saved 75,000 marine animals, Somerhalder shared.

The actor himself solidified his passion for the environment in 2010, when he created ISF.

“After the BP oil spill, I was crippled, not just with sadness or pain but with a deep, deep, deep distrust in the way the world is working right now,” he said. “And a deep, very meaningful, purposeful notion to call for immediate global change. What I found was a lot of voices echoing that sentiment, who were rallying with me and it ultimately became the ISF family.”

But between gigs saving the world, he will go back to playing Damon Salvatore on The CW’s “Vampire Diaries,” which is now heading into its seventh season.

“This is an evolution of the story. This is Mystic Falls without Elena Gilbert,” the actor said about the upcoming season. “The relationships and dynamics are going to be so cool. Our goal – not even our goal, what we will do – as actors and producers and writers and executives, we will make sure that we pay tribute to the type of storytelling in Season 1 and Season 2, that really galvinized and solidified this fanbase, which really allowed people to fall in love with this show. We want to go back to the storytelling that’s dark and sexy and fun and volatile, and that’s what we’re doing. Damon’s going to be on a great journey.”

Somerhalder and the rest of the cast will travel to San Diego Comic Con this weekend to bring a little taste of what’s to come for fans, who sometimes camp out overnight in order to make it into jam-packed panels.

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision for Dawn/AP Images)

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Invision for Dawn/AP Images)

So what can they expect?

“There’s a really awesome little reel of stuff that’s happened in the past on the show, and a very special bonus scene that I shot yesterday that’s a lot of fun,” Somerhalder teased. “Definitely worth seeing, it’s both fun and emotional. It’s awesome.”

“The Vampire Diaries” Comic Con panel will take place Sunday, July 12 at 10 a.m. in Hall H. The show returns to The CW for Season 7 on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m.