Endangered Penguin Species Threatened by South Atlantic Oil Spill

A cargo ship that ran aground along the coast of a remote South Atlantic island has dumped some 800 tons of crude oil into the waters nearby, delivering a potentially severe blow to an ecosystem that is home to an endangered penguin species.

As The New York Times reports, another 800 tons of oil are threatening to spill out of the M.S. Oliva. The Maltese-flagged ship, whose crew was rescued, broke in half after it ran aground along Nightingale Island on March 16.

“The scene at Nightingale is dreadful, as there is an oil slick encircling the island,” local conservationist Trevor Glass said in a statement.

The Tristan de Cunha archipelago, which includes Nightingale, has some 200,000 penguins, among them half of the known population of the northern rockhopper penguins. An estimated 20,000 of the rockhoppers, an endangered species whose numbers have plummeted in recent years, have been coated with oil from the March 16 accident.

“Many of the birds have been oiled for over a week, which limits their chances of survival,” Jay Holcomb, the director emeritus of the International Bird Rescue Research Center, said in a post on the group’s blog.

A further ecological danger is posed by the rats that may have been aboard the ship, which was on its way from Brazil to Singapore, carrying 66,000 tons of soybeans. Many of the islands in the archipelago were-rodent free, and should rats manage to move in, they could wreak havoc.

The Tristan de Cunha chain, which belongs to the United Kingdom, lies about 1,700 miles from the nearest land, in South Africa, making it the most secluded inhabited place on earth. So far, just one ship has arrived to assist in the clean-up, with another on the way and expected to arrive from South Africa on Thursday.

Print Print  

4 comments to “Endangered Penguin Species Threatened by South Atlantic Oil Spill”

  1. TScroggs

    Here’s the one I donated through.

    http://www. oceandoctor.org

  2. Jamie

    What’s the name of the organization involved in the rescue so we can donate money?!

  3. george

    i can’t believe this!!!!!!!

  4. bessie

    so sad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leave a comment