Rehabilitated penguins are released following oil spill in Uruguay

Thursday, July 17, 2008
Mexico City, Mexico
Following a thorough rehabilitation process conducted by wildlife specialists, 40 penguins returned to their ocean home today off the coast of Maldonado, Uruguay.
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org ) and local group SOCOBIOMA (Society for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Maldonado), led a coalition of NGOs tasked with this oiled wildlife response in South America.

All animals are tagged with IFAW bands – www.ifaw.org/penguinband , which will allow veterinarians and other specialists to monitor the animals after their release. ‘The information we receive on their condition, whereabouts, or even if they are stricken by another spill will let us continue our research into relevant conservation studies with these species’ said Valeria Ruoppolo of IFAW.

Seabirds are especially vulnerable to oiling. Losing their waterproofing abilities, penguins and other birds are forced out of the chilly waters in a state of hypothermia, leading to dehydration and starvation.

More than 14,000 cubic meters of fuel oil were spilled when two tankers collided 12 miles (20 km) from the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. The Greek oil tanker Syros and Maltese-registered Sea Bird reportedly crashed into each other while trying to avoid a collision with a third vessel. The 24 mile-long spill drifted towards Buenos Aires and shortly after, oiled-covered birds began surfacing in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina.

Other groups involved with the rescue of oiled birds affected by this spill include CRAM/MO-FURG (Center for the Recovery of Marine Animals) in Brazil, FMM (Fundacion Mundo Marino) and FPN (Fundacion Patagonia Natural) of Argentina.

‘This spill affected hundreds of birds around the region. Close to 150 Magellanic penguins, 4 Great grebes and 1 Giant petrel were cared for by IFAW and SOCOBIOMA alone. Due to the magnitude of this disaster, oiled penguins have surfaced in Brazil, where 56 Magellanic penguins are being rehabilitated by CRAM”, added Ruoppolo. ‘The 40 penguins that went back to the wild today were cleared for release after passing several physical requirements including blood tests, weight and body condition, waterproof feathers and other necessary characteristics we always take into consideration.’

IFAW has saved tens of thousands of animals at more than 25 oil spills. And in 2000, IFAW helped save an entire species — rehabilitating and releasing 21,000 African Penguins caught in the Treasure oil spill off South Africa. Today, IFAW’s oiled wildlife response team is widely recognized as the world’s finest.

Post a comment

Press Contact

Michael Booth (IFAW, Headquarters)
Contact phone:
+52 (55) 5662-0559
Contact email:

Experts

Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Dr. Ian Robinson, Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
IFAW Veterinarian
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Katie Moore, Program Director, Animal Rescue
Program Director, Animal Rescue
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia