The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) expects another 50 oiled African penguins from the St Croix Island as the battle to rescue the sea birds continues.
The birds were affected when a refuelling of the MV Chrysanthi S ship went awry and up to 400 litres of oil spilled in the Port of Ngqura, about 20km from Port Elizabeth.
A fresh team from Cape Town arrived in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday night to continue rescue operations for sea birds affected by the spill, Sanccob’s Christian Triay told News24 on Wednesday.
“We do tend to work 12 hours a day initially as the sea birds are stressed when they come in,” Triay added.
Sanccob is performing a first responder role in caring for the endangered birds and South African National Parks officials are transporting the animals to the rehabilitation centres.
Birds on St Croix, Brenton, Jaheel and Bird islands were affected by the spill.
“We work hard to minimise the stress levels throughout the rehabilitation process and the washing process,” said Triay.
Sea birds affected by oil. (All images courtesy of Sanccob)
A 2016 research paper, titled Impacts of oil spills on seabirds: Unsustainable impacts of non-renewable energy, examined the effect of Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on sea birds (guillemot).
Researchers were trying to understand the low survival rate of rehabilitated sea birds following an oil spill.
“In the long term, guillemot populations in the wild are impacted by reproductive, and immune toxicity, of PAHs which would compromise recruitment and recovery of populations following mortality in the wild due to various factors such as epizootics, reduced prey density, habitat destruction and climate change,” the researchers found.
The paper, published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, argued that the fossil fuel remained a clear risk to the marine environment.
“Until there is a transition to a sustainable energy economy, the severity of future oil spills will continue to increase and contingency planning and investment should be scaled up in anticipation for inevitable future energy-driven disasters, ranging from accidents in ever busier shipping lanes to future engineering safety failures in offshore rigs.”
According to International Bird Rescue, oiled birds inadvertently ingest oil as they preen to get the oil off their feathers, resulting in organ damage.
Sanccob urged the public not to rescue birds themselves, but to rather report oiled sea birds to the organisation.
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Sanccob reveals the latest information regarding the work to save sea birds