Saturday, April 2, 2011
Penguin rescue operation under way after south Atlantic oil spill
(CNN) -- On an island chain located halfway between Africa and Argentina, local authorities say a massive penguin rescue operation is under way.
A mix of island officials and resident volunteers are struggling to save tens of thousands of Northern Rockhopper penguins threatened by an oil spill in the remote stretches of the south Atlantic, roughly 1,500 miles west of Cape Town, South Africa.
The islands' conservation director said at least 300 penguins have died after a cargo ship leaked thousands of tons of heavy oil, diesel fuel and soya bean near Nightingale Island, a British territory part of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago.
"I've seen about 15 to 20 dead penguins just today," director Trevor Glass said.
Thousands more are covered in the ships' oil and diesel fuel, according to local officials and conservationists.
"The danger now is getting the rest of these penguins past that oil slick," Glass said.
The rescue operation began shortly after March 16, when the M.S. Oliva -- a Maltese-registered ship -- ran aground, fracturing its hull and ultimately splitting the vessel in two.
The ship was heading from Santos, Brazil, to Singapore and had been carrying 60,000 metric tons of soya beans and 1,500 metric tons of heavy fuel, according to islands' administrator Sean Burns and Transport Malta, the Maltese shipping authority.
(The full story is here: http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/04/02/atlantic.penguin.rescue.operation/index.html?hpt=C1)
UPDATE: Much better and more in-depth coverage of the spill is here, at Nautical Log Blog: