Nightingale Island

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Update on penguin rescue efforts from oil spill in south Atlantic

  • Posted on: 6 April 2011
  • By: DWG

Originally posted on Daily Kos. Reprinted here with permission at our request. - GH

This is a follow-up to an earlier diary about the threat posed by oil spilled by a freighter that broke up off Nightingale Island, home to approximately half of the world's endangered Northern Rockhopper penguin population.

Here is a brief recap of key events. On March 16, for reasons no one has been able to determine, a fully loaded freighter containing soybeans slammed into the rocks off Nightingale Island in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago (a World Heritage site) in the south Atlantic. The freighter broke in half and sank, dumping at least 1500 tons of fuel oil in the seas, which formed a heavy oil slick around the island, threatening marine life. The penguins attracted the most attention as they are a critically endangered. Because of the remote location, it took wildlife rescue teams nearly a week to reach the island by boat and set up operations. Wildlife biologists estimate that half of the 20,000 penguin colony have had some exposure to the oil and over 300 oiled penguins have already died.

One of thousands of Rockhopper penguins found oiled

"Unlike previous spills of this size, it didn't happen way out to sea and gradually approach such a vital conservation area. It struck right at the heart of the penguin colony and it's devastating to them."

- Sarah Sanders, Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds

Thanks to outreach and updates by marine biologist David Guggenheim, the difficult wildlife rescue operation is starting to get broader attention by NGOs and the media. CNN has finally covered the story.

 

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Atlantic Oil Spill Near Nightingale and Inaccessible Island

  • Posted on: 26 March 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

Via a piece from March 22 on Boston.com,1 another environmental disaster:

LONDON—Thousands of endangered penguins have been coated with oil after a cargo ship ran aground and broke up on a remote British South Atlantic territory, officials and conservationists said Tuesday.

The shipwreck also threatens the lobster fishery that provides a livelihood to one of the world's most isolated communities.

The Malta-registered MS Olivia was grounded on Nightingale Island in the Tristan da Cunha chain last week. The ship had been traveling from Brazil to Singapore and contained 1,500 metric tons (1,650 tons) of crude oil and a cargo of 60,000 metric tons (66,000 tons) of soya beans.

The ship's 22 crew members were rescued before it broke in two.

[...Read more...]

Nightingale Island is part of the Tristan da Cunha chain of islands located about halfway between South America and Africa. The article notes that the British government has expressed concern over the potential environmental/ecological and economic damage, but that it is too early to tell what the impact of the accident will be.

The image included in the Globe piece shows three oil-covered rock-hopper penguins who do not look very pleased at all with recent events.

Footnote references below the fold.

 

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