Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

November 19, 2015

Researchers: Saving Oiled Seabirds Is Effective Long-term

Photo of Little Blue Penguins Rena Spill Response in New Zealand

New research out of New Zealand is helping underscore what we’ve always believed: Saving oiled birds and returning them to the wild healthy and clean is not just well meaning but worth the effort.

Release of 60 Little Blue penguins at Mt Maunganui beach following Rena Oil Spill. Photo by Graeme Brown


Release of 60 Little Blue penguins at Mt Maunganui beach following Rena Oil Spill. Photo by Graeme Brown

Researchers from Massey University’s studied Little Blue Penguins (in photo above) following the 2011 Rena oil spill in the Bay of Plenty. They found both rehabilitated and non-rehabilitated birds were behaving similarly – diving to similar depths and in similar locations. They also analyzed the carbon and nitrogen levels in the birds’ feathers and able to show the penguins were feeding on similar prey.

Scientists evaluated the foraging behavior of eight cleaned birds using tracking devices and then compared it to the behavior of six unaffected birds.

The study was published this month in the Marine Pollution Bulletin. See the Massey University report

Bird Rescue sent a oiled wildlife response team to New Zealand in October 2011 after the 775 ft (236 m) cargo ship, MV Rena, ran aground on a charted reef off the North Island port of Tauranga. 300 metric tons of Fuel oil leaked from the ship and caused New Zealand’s worst environmental disaster. Read more

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