Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘ifaw’

October 5, 2008

Making history: 372 Penguins released in Brazil

Thanks to the combined efforts of NGOs and the Brazilian government, 372 rehabilitated juvenile Magellanic penguins this week were airlifted and the released back to the wild in southern Brazil. This was a history making release: It’s the largest group of these penguins to ever be released in this country at one time.

An IFAW ER Team, along with colleagues from Center for the Recovery of Marine Animals (CRAM), Institute for Aquatic Mammals (IMA) and the environmental authority in Brazil, IBAMA, released 372 Magellanic penguins yesterday, making history as the largest group of these penguins to ever be released in Brazil at one time. All of the birds were banded with Federal bands and the Federal Banding authority, CEMAVE, came to work with the ER Team and others to learn about banding penguins. There are still 40 birds finishing their rehabilitation that will be released in the coming days.

The stranding of the penguins, because of poor food stocks, left them in extremely poor body condition. According to penguin researcher, Dr. Dee Boersma, there is a flow of warmer water (1° C higher than normal) which has caused the juvenile penguins to keep going north, past their usual range, where they are unable to find adequate food. There is always a high mortality rate for first year birds but this increased northerly range and lack of available food had increased the normal mortality rate for this group of penguins.

This effort is part of The Penguin Network which partner in South America with local organizations and is co-managed by IBRRC and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

September 17, 2008

Video report of chronic oiling of penguins in Brazil

Video report of chronic oiling of penguins in Brazil:

At least 260 live penguins are now in care. The Center for the Recovery of Marine Animals (CRAM), one of the Penguin Network member organizations which is a partnership co-managed by IBRRC and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), is deploying personnel and responding with local organizations to help with oiled birds. The key institutions involved are CRAM (MO FURG); Associacao R3 Animal; CETAS-IBAMA and the local Environmental Police (Policia Militar Ambiental). This response is supported by the Petrobras’ mobile units for oiled wildlife response, through their Center for Environmental Defense (CDA – Itajaí).

And a couple of photos of cleaned penguins:

August 6, 2008

850+ stranded and hungry penguins in Brazil

You may have seen the recent articles about the juvenile Magellanic Penguins showing up on Brazilian beaches malnourished and dying. IBRRC is working with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)to manage IFAW’s Penguin Network to ensure excellent care of oiled and sick penguins in South America.

To date, there have been more than 850 penguins collected, almost all juveniles. The birds are coming into care in extremely poor body condition and many have died.

There are two groups in this part of Brazil that normally work with marine mammals who have started taking these stranded penguins into care with the hope of rehabilitation and release.

•In Salvador – Bahia, NE Brazil, Instituto Mamíferos Aquáticos (IMA) has received 500+ live juvenile penguins so far. Only 2 were adults. As of 6 August 06 ≈ 300 are alive.

•In Vitória – Espírito Santo, Southeastern Brazil, Instituto Orca has received some 250+ penguins and it is believed that there are around 90 still alive.

According to penguin researcher, Dr. Dee Boersma, there is a flow of warmer water (1C higher than normal) which has caused the juvenile penguins to keep going north, past their usual range, where they are unable to find adequate food. There is always a high mortality rate for first year birds but this increased northernly range and lack of available food had increased the normal mortality rate for this group of penguins. Almost all of the penguins being found on beaches in the north of Brazil have been juveniles and since they are starving, they come into care in an extremely debilitated state.

The local groups working with penguins have utilized area pools to swim the penguins and monitor blood values of the birds. They also are using penguin feeding protocols developed by the IFAW/IBRRC team.

Also see: Penguins as Marine Sentinels by Dee Boersma

July 5, 2008

Uruguay oil spill affects migrating penguins

A recent oil spill in Uruguay is making it tough on migrating penguins and other birds along the coast of this South American country located between Argentina and Brazil. Magellanic Penguins are the most affected by the spill that occurred when two ships collided about 12 miles (20 km) from the port of Montevideo, Uruguay on June 3, 2008.

A joint IFAW/IBRRC Emergency Response Team is on-site and working with other area wildlife rescue groups to help with the logistics and treatment of the oiled birds. A swimming pool at a Punta Del Este beach-side waterpark is being used to help the penguins recuperate.

A total of 139 birds are in house and being cleaned and reconditioned for release back into the wild. This includes three great grebes, 135 Magellanic penguins and one giant petrel.

According to an IFAW report, the ER team has had great successes this week as they have been able to clean all the birds that were healthy enough to go through the stressful cleaning process. A good majority of the penguins are clean and in waterproofing pools, reconditioning for release. One of the major problems for these birds has been that they’ve come in to care in such debilitated conditions and most are extremely under weight. Oiled birds often become obsessed with preening their feathers to try to remove the oil and ignore feeding or they become so hypothermic, due to the oil disrupting their waterproofing ability, that they beach themselves and then don’t eat or drink. Medically stabilizing these birds is a big part of what our team does so successfully and this is evidenced by so many of these birds being healthy enough to go through the cleaning process already. At this time, there are 101 clean birds and only 29 that are still underweight or anemic and are being given supportive care until they are healthy enough for cleaning and reconditioning. Two great grebes that were oiled have been cleaned, reconditioned and were released this week! The team is tentatively planning a release of the first penguins for next Wednesday, July 9.

The oiled birds swam through the spill when the Greece registered ship, the Syros and the Sea Bird, a vessel registered in Malta, collided near Montevideo. The collision produced a 12 mile long oil spill near the Rio de la Plata river.


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January 23, 2008

One more Argentina oil spill update

Direct from Patagonia, Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director, sent this latest update on the Argentina oil spill response:

Today we finished washing most of the birds accept about 8 of the last penguins. We also washed the 4 new oiled cormorants and 5 rewash cormorants that still had wet underwings meaning that they likely have oil on them. So, other than a bird here and there we are more or less shutting down the wash room for daily activity.

We released 6 steamer ducks at a perfect place where they joined about 80 others. We also released 18 cormorants at the same place and they did equally well.

We then began go grade (check for waterproofing) the first group of penguins for release. We approved 22 penguins that will be released tomorrow and early in the morning we are evaluating another 50 or so. All penguins have been put on a very aggressive swimming schedule that will help them become waterproof asap.

We only have 7 grebes left and will reevaluate them on Friday. We have a total of 9 cormorants and will evaluate them on Sunday or Monday since they were just washed today. We have 3 ducks. One is in treatment for a swollen wing but the other 2 are still wet on their stomachs and they will also evaluated in a few days.

I forgot to mention that another very large slick came to shore yesterday and that was quite discouraging to us. There are more oiled cormorants and an occasional oiled bird here and there. Not sure what will happen after we leave as we made an internal agreement to get the other birds out before we leave and just leave penguins.

See IBRRC website

January 19, 2008

Good news from Argentina oil spill response

The first bunch of grebes cleaned of oil at the Patagonia mystery spill in Argentina were released this week.

In all, 14 Great Grebes were set free into the wild. At least 50 volunteers showed up to celebrate the release. They have been working with the IBRRC/IFAW response team to help remove the oil from the bird’s feathers following the December 26, 2007 spill.

According to IBRRC’s Executive Director, Jay Holcomb who has been working on the spill for 10 days: “Lots of tears and thank yous…They lost over 200 grebes. There are about 38 more grebes left at the center. We think most will be released in a few days.”

See Argentina IBRRC’s spill response web page

January 12, 2008

Update: Patagonia spill response in Argentina


Update from Barbara Callahan, who is helping manage the oil spill response in Patagonia, Argentina:

After a long and difficult two days, the second wave of team members, including Jay Holcomb and Michelle Bellizzi from IBRRC in California, finally on the ground after arriving at almost midnight Thursday night. The team doesn’t have luggage but are hopeful that it will be delivered directly to the hotel sometime today.

Currently, there are 367 live birds in-house comprised of 234 Magellanic penguins, 30 cormorants, 10 steamer ducks and 67 grebes. The new admits to the hospital have slowed considerably which has allowed the team to concentrate their efforts on providing full medical exams on every bird as well as successfully begin to move the healthiest birds through the washing process. It’s always a very positive change during a spill response when the first clean birds are in pools and beginning to waterproof.

At the command center briefing today, Valeria Ruoppolo, Penguin Network veterinarian, reports that the only really positive thing is the wildlife response and the Government is very pleased to see the animals being cared for and staff and volunteers being trained. Unfortunately, they believe there is still mobilized oil on the water and that could oil new birds.

On another positive note, the Government from the Santa Cruz region has sent 6 of their staff to assist the team on the ground in Comodoro Rivadavia. These staff members have all worked with the IFAW ER Team during the Cabo Virgenes spill in 2006 so they bring good skills to the mix and this collaboration will continue their training to increase local capacity.

– Barbara Callahan, IBRRC Director of Response Services & IFAW ER Manager – Oiled Wildlife Division

More info online: IFAW Animal Rescue Blog

Photos above: Great Grebe; penguins after feeding.

Funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and co-managed by the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), the Emergency Response team works together to response to oil spills worldwide.

January 10, 2008

IBRRC team helping at Argentina oil spill

Two senior IBRRC oil spill response members are now on Argentina’s Patagonia coastline to assist with a mystery oil spill that has affected more than 400 birds. IBRRC’s Executive Director Jay Holcomb and Rehabilitation Manager Michelle Bellizzi arrived in South America yesterday to help an international team of wildlife experts treat oiled birds. Listen to KCBS radio report

Also joining the team are three IBRRC interns, José María “Chema” Barredo, Laura Barcelo and Yeray Seminario fresh from their experiences on the San Francisco Bay oil spill. All interns are fluent in Spanish.

Currently there are 430 oiled birds in care, including 20 steamer ducks, 200 Magellanic penguins, 180 silvery and crested grebes, 41 cormorants. The steamer ducks and Magellanic penguins are the highest conservation priority as they’re both listed as near threatened by Birdlife International.

Fundación Patagonia Natural (FPN) staff member Carla Poleschi is the Wildlife Branch Director for the Argentine Government’s Incident Management Team. Carla has worked with IFAW on other spill responses in Argentina and has asked for the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Emergency Response Team to help manage the wildlife response.

Spill clean-up is underway and being handled by the Navy but the Government has yet to determine the source spill. The oil spill has covered an area of 24 square kilometres in the Atlantic Ocean. Recent satellite imagery is being analyzed to try and determine the cause of the spill.

An oil spill of unknown origin was detected on December 26, 2007 along the coast of Chubut Province, in Argentina. The spill site is located 12 km north of Comodoro Rivadavia, in Caleta Cordova, approximately 1,740 km south of Buenos Aires.


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The Argentine Government is supporting the development of a wildlife response facility, as well as providing supplies and equipment needed to care for animals. In addition to the the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s IFAW ER Team, there are approximately 100 volunteers under their direction, assisting with the rescue effort.

IBRRC is no stranger to working in South America. It helped in Argentina in 1991 and since then has helped develop and manage the IFAW/IBRRC Penguin Network. The network as ben instrumental in bringing many South American wildlife groups together to share resources, information and expertise. See: Penguin Network info

IBRRC works in partnership with IFAW worldwide to response to major spills and develop trainings to help local groups learn how to best treat oiled animals. IFAW is again sponsoring IBRRC staff and other wildlife professionals Mexico and elsewhere to travel to this remote region.

Hear KCBS radio report

November 17, 2007

Birds don’t get a break this month

They say things come in threes and this month it’s proving catastrophically true for oiled birds worldwide.

On the heels of the San Francisco Bay spill, this week a major spill hit the Black Sea area of Russia. Up to 30,000 birds are reported to be dead after an oil tanker leaked 560,000 gallons of oil into the sea. The tanker broke in half after encountering stormy seas. CNN Video Report

Two team members from our joint IBRRC/IFAW Emergency Response team are already on their way to help. See the IBRRC report

Closer to home, a spill of suspicious origins along Santa Cruz County beaches is causing concern. Dubbed the “Moss Landing Mystery Spill,” this spill has left nearly 100 birds tainted with a clear oily substance of unknown origins.

IBRRC’s San Pedro Bird Center was activated to handle the first wave of oiled birds. Since then the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz has also started treating birds. See IBRRC update