Penguins rescued from oil pollution in South America

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Yarmouth Port, MA
Hundreds of oil-covered Magellanic penguins have surfaced off the Atlantic coast of South America in the last few weeks, more than 40 of them in Uruguay alone. In an effort to rescue and rehabilitate these birds, IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org) is assisting staff and volunteers from SOCOBIOMA (Society for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Maldonado) a local NGO in Uruguay.
The continuous stream of oil from accidental spills and the deliberate, illegal discharge of oil from ships have created a chronic oiling problem across South America and other parts in the world. Seabirds are especially vulnerable to oiling. Loosing their waterproofing abilities, penguins are forced out of the frigid waters in a state of hypothermia, leading to dehydration and starvation.
 
With extensive experience in the region, IFAWs involvement in Uruguay provides yet another opportunity to consolidate the IFAW Emergency Relief Network. 
 
“What matters most are the penguins,” said Dr. Rodolfo Silva of IFAW. ‘By strengthening the Network, we are moving ahead with proper standardized care protocols and techniques that will further improve their chance of survival, no matter where they come to shore”.
 
At present, 48 Magellanic Penguins are being treated at the SOCOBIOMA center in Maldonado, Uruguay. “After being stabilized and fed, the washing process is in full motion right now and we expect to be able to release them back to the ocean in about 10 days or so,” said Dr. Lourdes Casas of SOCOBIOMA.

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