Algoa Bay oil spill leads to oiled seabirds admitted to SANCCOB

Algoa Bay oil spill leads to oiled seabirds admitted to SANCCOB

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) has responded to an oil spill in Algoa Bay, where an estimated 200 to 400 litres of oil overflowed during SA Marine Fuels’ refuelling of the MV Chrysanthi S near the Port of Ngqura, 20km north east of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The oil spill occurred on the morning of Saturday, 6 July 2019, and has resulted in the oiling of seabirds.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), South African National Parks (SANParks) and SANCCOB are currently coordinating their response to the oil spill. Poor weather conditions following the oil spill hindered DEFF and SANParks from carrying out an immediate wildlife assessment but they have since managed to evaluate the impact and continue to seek out and rescue wildlife affected by the spill.

To date, SANCCOB Port Elizabeth has admitted 74 oiled African penguins, one Cape cormorant and one Cape gannet, as well as four oiled eggs and eight abandoned chicks as a result of oiled parent birds. In addition, we expect to receive another 30 oiled African penguins from St Croix Island. Bird and St Croix islands are home to more than half of the remaining wild African penguin population and both are of high biodiversity value.

On Wednesday, 10 July, a team of oiled wildlife responders from SANCCOB’s Cape Town centre arrived in the Eastern Cape to assist SANCCOB Port Elizabeth (PE) staff to timeously wash oiled birds and provide urgent medical attention. “We are doing everything we can to stabilise and clean the affected wildlife and SANParks remains vigilant in monitoring Bird and St Croix islands and surrounding areas,” says Christian Triay, SANCCOB’s Preparedness and Response Manager.

Triay says that the washing and subsequent rehabilitation period of the oiled seabirds at the PE facility will average four weeks until fit for release back to the wild, however, the length of stay will be substantially longer for oiled chicks. SANCCOB is world-renowned for its response to oiled wildlife crises and public support contributes to the organisation’s readiness to respond to such disaster situations. For 51 years, SANCCOB has responded to every major oil spill on the Southern African coastline and works in partnership with conservation authorities to conserve seabirds such as the endangered African penguin, Cape gannet, and Cape and Bank cormorant species.

Members of the public are encouraged to be watchful on the surrounding beaches in Port Elizabeth to report oiled seabirds in need of rescue, as well as any carcasses.

To contact SANCCOB Port Elizabeth to assist or report birds in distress, please call 041 583 1830 or contact SANCCOB Cape Town to report carcasses on 021 557 6155.