June 13, 2009

Oil pollution kill Seabirds

Oil pollution is a great threat to marine birds, particularly for those that spend a lot of time on the surface of the water such as loons, alcids (puffins, murres, razorbills, etc.), and waterfowl.
Chronic oil pollution can be even more insidious, and in some areas, are likely to kill more seabirds than single large scale spills. Oil and contaminants from illegal dumping of bilge wastes continue to pose an enormous threat to seabirds. For example, in Newfoundland, regular beached bird surveys have resulted in estimates of chronic oiling mortality at at least 300,000 birds each year.

The RSPCA said 98 birds have so far been washed up on a 70-mile stretch of coastline, between Sunderland and Amble, in Northumberland.

The dead birds - mostly sea ducks, guillemots and razorbills - were covered in the oil-like substance that has yet to be identified.The RSPCA and Natural England have mounted an investigation.

The first bird was discovered, at Cullercoats Bay, North Tyneside, at the weekend by a member of the public, who alerted Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade to the pollution.

RSPCA chief inspector Michelle Charlton said: "We need anyone who finds a bird to bring it directly to the Blue Reef Aquarium on the seafront at Tynemouth, if they can.

"The stretch of coastline is just so large that it's proving really difficult for us to get out to every call and collect every bird.

"Any help the public can offer is very welcome indeed."

The charity urged anyone who finds dead or injured birds to use gloves as the nature of the pollutant remains unknown.

Ms Charlton added: "We don't know what the cause is yet.

"Our concern is the welfare of the birds being brought in to us, and we are focusing all of our attention on that."

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