IFAW’s Emergency Relief Team starts rescuing wildlife in Chile after Oil Spill

Friday, November 18, 2005
Mexico City, Mexico
On November 1 a Hong Kong, Province of China-flagged cargo ship ran aground on the northern coast of Chile, near the city of Antofagasta, cracking and releasing heavy bunker fuel contaminating seven kilometers of the coast and affecting the wildlife, especially seabirds.
Following a request for help from Chile’s Antofagasta University an international team of experts from IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org) with experience in oiled wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, arrived on the scene.

“We received the request of support through Dr. Carlos Guerra, Director of Wildlife Response of Antofagasta University”, said Beatriz Bugeda, Director of IFAW Latin America. “Once we evaluated the magnitude and effects of the event, we activated our Emergency Relief team with specialists from Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Since their arrival they have been caring for the affected animals in the Wildlife Center of the University.”

The ER Team is working shoulder to shoulder with personnel from the University in search and collection of oiled wildlife. There is now no more oil on the water and a recent census identified only 10 oiled birds remaining in the spill area.

“So far we have in care at the University of Antofagasta Wildlife Center 22 Peruvian pelicans (pelecanus thagus), one Humboldt penguin (spheniscus humboldti) and one gull. We haven’t detected any deaths or major impact on marine mammals.,” said Dr. Valeria Ruoppolo, IFAW’s ER Team Coordinator of the response.

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