New England Seabirds
Northern Rockhopper Penguins - Oil Spill April 2011
There's a desperate situation on Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic Ocean unfolding right now and we need your help.
More than 10,000 Northern Rockhopper penguins are believed to be affected, covered in oil after the cargo ship ‘MS Oliva’ crashed into the island, part of the UK Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha, 3000km west of South Africa.
Tristan Islanders are determined to save as many penguins as possible and are facing a race against the clock to help save this endangered species. The islanders have arranged boats to pick up the distressed penguins from Nightingale Island and to ferry them to a rehabilitation centre on the neighbouring island of Tristan.
So far, over 2,400 penguins have been brought in for rehabilitation. Teams of people have begun efforts to stabilise them with fluids, vitamins and charcoal to absorb ingested oil. The local swimming pool has been drained and refilled with fresh water to aid the birds' recovery, and holding pens and sick bays have also been set up.
Katrine Herian, who works for the RSPB on the islands, says: “The priority is to get food into the birds as they are very hungry. We are feeding them fish and some are starting to take small half inch squares of food”.
Even before the disaster, the Northern Rockhopper was one of the most threatened penguin species. Nightingale Island includes nearly half of the world’s population of Northern Rockhopper penguins, one of the world’s most threatened species of penguin.
Not just penguins have been affected by this disaster. One of the birds in the sick bay is a fledgling Molly or Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, named 'Tristan' by the crew of the rescue boat that brought the albatross from Nightingale to the main island. A Broad-billed Prion (locally known as a ‘Night-Bird’) has also been brought in from Nightingale.
Please give to our Nightingale Island disaster fund today. We'll use your donation to help the penguins and other wildlife affected by the oil. Your support will also be used to fund follow-up monitoring and to assess the full impact of this disaster.
You can donate online here
RSPB Director of International Operations
Webmaster Note: Rockhopper Penguins can be seen at the New England Aquarium in Boston