Sunday, 4 March 2007

Napoli and oiled seabirds

There have been so many strands to consider in the ongoing Napoli story that I have omitted to blog about a particularly important aspect: the effect of Napoli's oil on seabirds. One hears about minimal oil pollution as a result of the Napoli affair, the problem seems to me to be that although in volume terms there was little loss of oil it is the nature of the stuff that it forms a thin sheen on the water and it's this that affects seabirds.

The RSPCA have an excellent facility for dealing with oiled birds at its West Hatch Wildlife Centre near Taunton and this is where their dedicated staff have been helping the affected birds. Last week saw the first of the rescued guillemots released back into the wild, hopefully to be followed by many more.

About 1900 birds have been rescued by the animal welfare organisations but they reckon that ten times that number could have suffered from the oil spillage. At this location it's mainly the guillemots that have been affected and because these birds lay just one egg a year then it is feared that their population could be markedly depleted as a result.

It used to be the case that some rogue oil tankers would clean out their tanks at sea and I use to periodically hear about oiled birds being washed up on the coastline as a result. I don't know if this still happens.

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