Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘penguins’

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 24, 2008

Penguins released back to the wild in Argentina

The wildlife response teams working in Patagonia released the first 30 penguins washed of oil today.

“It was very emotional for volunteers and all other groups involved. About 50 or so should be ready on Saturday, said Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director. “There are about 190 penguins left so we are beginning to see the end.”


More than 400 birds including penguins, grebes, cormorants and steamer ducks have been treated at the makeshift oiled bird rehabilitation center along the Patagonia coast in southern Argentina.

A spill occurred on December 27, 2007 at a oil tanker loading facility. An unknown amount of oil spilled over a four kilometer area. The team is still seeing slicks of oil come ashore.

January 22, 2008

Argentina 1/21/08 Update: Oil spill response

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s Executive Director, who is in Argentina, sent this update from Patagonia oil spill response this evening:

We established today as a big major penguin washing day so that we can wrap this spill up. With water issues and other problems we have only been able to wash a total of 25 or so penguins a day and we really wanted to do 30 to 40 a day. A few days ago we decided that we would do a long wash day and intend to do 50 to 60 penguins. That only leaves 30 or so oiled penguins left to wash and 10 of those are the weak ones that will go through the process once they are approved. So, today we washed a total of 50 Penguins leaving only 35 left to do and 5 of those are going to wait so only 30 to wash tomorrow.

Tomorrow we are re-evaluating all 29 King Cormorants and intend to release as many as possible the next day. We know a few have oil under their wings and have to be rewashed.

We are also re-evaluating the steamer ducks. We know 2 have to stay back because of problems but maybe the rest can go. Sergio and I worked a long time on getting them to feed and now the eat real well. We hung tarps on the pools so they are not very stressed during the day so that has improved life for them and they actually started eating when I was in the cage today.

We released another 12 Great Grebes today. They are some of the meanest birds I have ever cared for but one of the most exquisite looking birds. We only have 10 left so I am happy. I have been very stressed with dealing with the aggression and they have managed to kill a few of their pool mates and scalp some others. I have a pool of 3 scalped ones that need to start to grow feathers in by next week. Their waterproofing has been flawless from day one and that is amazing since I have NEVER cleaned their cages. There is no way to do that because it water is so cloudy. You cannot see the bottom and they eat the fish that falls on the bottom. This waterproofing is one of the things that has worked out for them and it is because Rudolpho set us such a brilliant system. Many of the keep sores have resolved and that is amazing also. Great birds and maybe the desert air, soft water and the type of fish they eat combine to make a good pool environment. Who knows?

The penguins are doing well, eating a lot and swimming increasing amounts every day and we will start to evaluate the first bunch of them for release starting Wed at the latest.

Some oil got stirred up from somewhere in the local harbor and today we heard there was an oiled cormorant on the breakwater about 4 blocks from here where some sea lions hang out. We are in the backside of a small fishing village and the ladies at the local school provide us with lunch every day so we walk or drive there to eat. Anyway, Valeria and I were going to lunch and went to check out the cormorant and within a half an hour I captured 3 very oiled cormorants and had a few close encounters with the sea lions. Another cormorant swam away but one of the local guys caught it later. So, we now have 4 new oiled cormorants. The good thing is that they are very healthy and we will probably be able to wash them on Wednesday and get them through the system quickly. It is disturbing as there is oil all over the rocks and beaches and they stopped clean up. All the locals are very unhappy.

We also got an oiled South American Tern in that is missing feathers on one wing and will go to Patagonia Natural’s rehab program in Punta Tumbo until it gets it molts and gets new feathers.

There was mui dramatico incident yesterday as Valeria would call it. Some of the fisherman staged a demonstration that they call a manifestation and blocked our road and the main road a few killometers from here. They burnt tires and were loud but peaceful to us. They let us through after the locals told them to not bother the volunteers and all the various bird rehab people like us so we all left at the same time and they passed us through the road block. That was good. Once again they were saying that the penguins are more important than them, etc. and they were making a point to the local government. They made the front page of the local paper but were gone today.

That is really about it for now. I have been sending pictures for the web site and you can see them there. We explained to everyone here that we have 10 days left for us to get the small birds released and get the penguins started on their release and then leave the remaining penguins in the capable hands of the people from Patagonia Natural and the guys from Cabo Vergines, where we worked last year. They will take charge of seeing the remaining penguins out the door.

Adios,
Jay

See IBRRC website

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

January 5, 2008

Argentina oil spill off remote Patagonia coast

An oil spill of unknown origin is causing great harm to at least 430 seabirds along Argentina’s Patagonia coastline. A team from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is responding to this remote location.

The total number of oiled animals currently in care is 430 and includes 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.

The spill happened on December 26, 2007 in the province of Chubut, a oil producing region along the southern coast of Patagonia. The Incident name is “Patagonia Argentina Mystery Oil Spill.”

IFAW’s Emergency Relief Team is managed cooperatively by IFAW and the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) which brings over 35 years of experience responding to oiled wildlife. The team is comprised of leaders in the field of wildlife rehabilitation, biology, veterinary medicine and management.

Hear podcast from Barbara Callahan, IBRRC Director of Response Services and IFAW’s ER Manager – Oiled Wildlife Division

IFAW report on spill Argentina oil spill response

Argentina Strives to Clean Mystery Oil Spill in Patagonia