SWITZERLAND/ Conservation organization WWF-New Zealand says it could take many
years before the full impact of the Rena oil spill on birds and other wildlife
New Zealand today reported hundreds of dead oiled birds had been found, and 92
were being cared for at the National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Centre.
Zealand Marine Advocate Bob Zuur is working as part of the National Oiled
Wildlife Recovery team in the Bay of Plenty. Speaking this afternoon from
the beach at Mount Maunganui, said that “We’ve been
scaling the rocks looking for wildlife, it’s difficult to see the birds and
they appear frightened. We’ve rescued three little blue penguins, but
collected many more dead birds. Penguins don’t normally come ashore during the
day, the ones we’re finding are pretty ill.”
that as penguins come to shore at night, it was likely more live oiled penguins
would be recovered by rescue teams this evening after night-fall.
organization, deeply concerned for wildlife affected by the spill, said that there
was a shag about 20 meters off shore, flapping in the water, trying to clean
itself - it couldn’t fly, it couldn’t dive, it didn’t know what to do, and they couldn’t reach it.
said that petrels were the most common species he and his team had discovered
dead, where “the majority of birds we’re finding dead are diving petrels, and also
penguins and shags. Many of these birds are nesting at this time of year.”
some of the dead birds could only be identified by their wingspan, and were so
covered in the tacky oil they were otherwise ‘unrecognisable’.
dotterel and the fairy tern are already threatened and it’s possible that if
the situation worsens, the local population could be severely depleted,” said
around 1500 New Zealand dotterels, in lots of little local populations, found
on open coastal shores. There are only a couple of dozen New Zealand dotterels
in the population near Maketu,” he added.
Along with concerns for wildlife, WWF warned
that the full extent of the environmental disaster may not be realised for some
time, and is likely to worsen. WWF will continue to support wildlife recovery
and restoration efforts and to offer technical support and assistance in this
emergency response phase.