Rescue effort continues for oiled penguins

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oile penguin AP An African penguin is washed by Sanccob staff after it was found covered in oil on Robben Island |on Wednesday. Picture: AP

Cape Town - Endangered African penguins from the Robben Island colony are still being oiled on a daily basis.

Bird conservation body Sanccob’s rehabilitation centre in Table View has taken on oiled penguins every day this week after a storm at the weekend caused part of the Seli 1 wreck to split apart and spill oil into Table Bay.

This comes as the city’s clean-up efforts at Dolphin and Rietvlei beaches are drawing to an end.

On Wednesday, a Department of Environmental Affairs aircraft surveyed the area of the ocean where the penguins hunt, but it could not identify any oil slicks that may be contributing to the pollution of the birds.

“We have only identified a slick in the vicinity of the wreck itself. Currently there is a ‘light sheen’ leaking from the wreck – thin oil which dissipates easily – this tells us that the spill is nearing its end… but with this particular wreck you can’t ever be too sure,” said Feroza Albertus-Stanley, environmental director for the department.

On Thursday the rehabilitation centre took on another 50 penguins, bringing the number of penguins saved to 113. This figure includes 11 chicks which were removed from their nests to avoid them starving to death. Conservationists believed that their parents had been oiled and were unable to care for them.

The cost for the rehabilitation was mounting, said Venessa Strauss, Sanccob’s CEO.

“It costs R500 to rehabilitate an oiled penguin and R1 500 to rehabilitate a chick,” she said.

She appealed to people to donate or adopt a penguin.

Strauss suspects that another ship may be dumping oil illegally, because it is easy to do so without being caught when there is an existing oil spill in the area.

Meanwhile, the National Department of Transport has committed to removing the Seli 1 wreck.

“The department views the removal of the Seli 1 in a serious light and the matter is receiving the necessary attention. To this end, the department has approached national Treasury for financial assistance and the matter is being considered,” said Sam Monareng, a spokesman for the department.

“The navy will assist in the carrying out of a thorough scan of the wreck and together with the salvage company, a detailed plan will be developed,” Monareng said. - Cape Argus

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