The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds has rescued African penguins, cormorants and other seabirds from an oil spill in Algoa Bay. Photo: Sanccob
The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds has rescued African penguins, cormorants and other seabirds from an oil spill in Algoa Bay. Photo: Sanccob

More endangered African penguins saved after oil spill

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jul 16, 2019

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Cape Town – More seabirds, including endangered African penguins, have been rescued from Algoa Bay following an oil spill.

After the rescue of about 60 African penguins by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) last week, four Cape cormorants, eight Cape gannets and nine African penguin chicks - abandoned by their oil-soaked parents - have been saved.

More African penguins have also been admitted to Sanccob’s facility, bringing the number of the rescued endangered species to 84.

Sanccob spokesperson Ronnis Daniels said a team of wildlife responders from the organisation's Cape Town centre arrived in the Eastern Cape last week to assist Sanccob’s Port Elizabeth staff to wash the oil-soaked birds and give them urgent medical attention.

Daniels said the birds were assessed and stabilised before being washed. “Sixty African penguins have been washed, two Cape cormorants, and a Cape gannet,” Daniels said.

The washing and subsequent rehabilitation period of the oiled seabirds at the Port Elizabeth facility will average four weeks before they are fit for release back into the wild. But the length of stay will be much longer for the oiled chicks.

The oil spill occurred in Algoa Bay in the early hours of July 6, during offshore bunkering operations.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries late yesterday referred the Cape Times to the South African Maritime Safety Authority for comment and did not respond to requests for an update on the situation.

The department previously said about 200 to 400 litres of fuel from receiving vessel Chrysanthi S spilt into the sea as a result of an overflow during a fuel transfer.

“SA Marine Fuels dispatch a commercial oil-spill response service provider to mitigate and contain the spread of the oil.

“An incident management organisation consisting of various stakeholders, including this department, has been established through Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy to address South Africa’s oil spill response capability in the marine environment,” the department had said.

The Algoa Bay spill was considered a Tier 1-level incident which does not require intervention from the national authorities, as local resources are sufficient. But the public is urged to be watchful on the beaches in Port Elizabeth to report oiled seabirds in need of rescue, as well as any carcasses.

Call Sanccob Port Elizabeth to assist or report birds in distress on 0415831830 or Sanccob, Cape Town, on 0215576155 to report carcasses.

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