Several penguins treated after PE oilspill

2016-08-20 21:09
Some of the penguins being rehabilitated by Sanccob in Cape St Francis. (Sanccob and SANParks)

Some of the penguins being rehabilitated by Sanccob in Cape St Francis. (Sanccob and SANParks)

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Cape Town - Several oil-covered African penguins were rescued on St Croix and Bird Island in Algoa Bay after an oil spill caused a slick of about 5km.

So far 95 penguins have been rescued and taken to rehabilitation facilities in the area since they started washing up on beaches on Tuesday.

Fayroush Ludick, SANParks regional spokesperson, told Netwerk24 that the situation is now considered to be a national disaster and will be handled at a national level.

African penguins are critically endangered.

A spokesperson for environmental affairs, Zolile Nqayi, says a national task team was deployed to the area and he is still waiting on feedback from officials on the ground.

Captain Neville Noble, Port Manager for the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) in the Port of Ngqura, told News24 that about 100 litres of oil was split during a ship-to-ship transfer on Sunday.

A SANParks ranger with one of the affected penguins. (SANParks)

Test will determine source

Tests are now being conducted to determine if it is this spill that has caused the crisis for the penguins, as SANParks' information according to Netwerk24 is that an oil slick of about 5 km indicates a spill of more than 100 litres.

"The vessel signed an admission of guilt fine of R350 000 for the 100 litres," Noble said. "We take this very seriously."

He flew over the area and says only a sheen was visible on the water and no oil was found washed up on beaches.

"I will go again tomorrow. We won't just leave it," he says.

Meanwhile, the affected penguins are being treated at the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (Samrec) in Port Elizabeth and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) in Cape St Francis.

"We are treating 69 penguins and they will be washed as soon as they are strong enough," Juanita Raath, rehabilitation co-ordinator at Sanccob said.

After they are cleaned, it takes about two to three weeks for them to regain their waterproofing. "They are then given health clearance and released."

She says they are in need of towels and newspapers for the cleaning process and people can drop these items off at their office or at the Wimpy in Jeffreys Bay.

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  penguin  |  oil spill

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