Oil Spill Endangers Little Blue Penguins

While the New Zealand Wildlife Response Center is attending to two blue penguins stricken by the oil on Papamoa and Little Waihi Beach in southern New Zealand, the center says to be helping two birds this soon highlights the coming danger from the recent oil spill. As Center Director Brett Gartrell told the Penguin Post, “To be getting oiled birds this early on in a spill is a very bad sign. We have a minimum number of animals we are expecting to deal with, but I expect this to grow.” The response center has been set up at the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Te Maunga can handle up to 500 birds, but with oiled birds already being found it is likely the center will need to extend it’s capacity, in which case further resources will be needed.

One of the rescued oiled penguins

The penguins found today had heavy oil over their heads, chest and ingrained in their feathers.“The penguins lost their waterproofing and more importantly their ability to swim. These penguins had only recently been oiled. Some birds will die immediately or within hours of being oiled.” Brett says the penguins had also ingested some of the toxic oil that can harm the animal’s organs and cause death. “Ingesting the oil is also toxic. It will take between five to seven days to see if they have had a toxic reaction.” At the response center near Bayfair the birds are being washed and waterproofed.

The oil penguin pair in their holding pen

“We put a stomach tube down the penguin’s throat and force fed them fluids and mackerel. The birds are then washed with canola oil in warm water and kept in ventilated cages overnight.” Once the birds become oiled Brett says there is a limited amount of time before they become hypothermic and vulnerable to predators so finding the birds and getting them straight to the treatment centre is essential. “When the birds lose their waterproofing they start to struggle in the water and become vulnerable to other marine life. At this stage the penguins are stable and fighting, which is a good sign.” In addition to the penguins, four seabirds were found dead yesterday by the slick and two oiled shags are being transported from Motiti Island to Te Maunga for treatment tonight. The two blue penguins will be kept in pools at the treatment center and will not be released until they are able to float for six hours.

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4 Responses to “Oil Spill Endangers Little Blue Penguins”

  1. Ngaire Smith Says:

    Um, FYI, Papamoa is in New Zealand, not Australia. I doubt that any oil has made it from the Bay of Plenty to Australia, considering the fact that the Bay of Plenty is on the east coast of the New Zealand’s North Island (Australia lies to the west of New Zealand).

  2. Catherine Says:

    Please Keep posting about the Blue penguins to make sure that they are well and healthy.

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