Algoa Bay oil spill affects endangered penguins

AUGUST 22, 2016

Over the weekend, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Port Elizabeth station, together with SA National Parks (SANParks) and the SA Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) rescued a number of endangered penguins that had been affected by an oil spill that is still under investigation.

"At 08h00, on Saturday, NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew launched the sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer IV and Spirit of Surfski II and the SANParks rigid inflatable boat JMB Malusi, skippered by NSRI, was launched carrying NSRI volunteers, SANParks rangers and SANCCOB members following a request by SANParks made to NSRI Port Elizabeth to assist in the search and recovery of oiled African Penguins at St Croix Island and the adjacent smaller Jaheel Island and Brenton Island (off the Deepwater Port of Ngqura), Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth," the NSRI said.

"During this past week SANParks and SANCCOB had reportedly recovered a number of oiled Penguins in the area washed up on beaches suspected to have been oiled from an oil spill believed to have occurred during a ship to ship oil transfer that is still under investigation by SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority)."

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On Sunday, SANParks appealed to NSRI Port Elizabeth to assist in the search and recovery operation that extended to the three Islands off the Port of Ngqura.

"NSRI, SANCCOB and SANParks recovered 47 Penguins (32 adult and 15 chicks) in todays operation which started at 08h00 and was completed at around 13h45," the organisation said

"They were located and recovered from St Croix Island and Jaheel Island. No affected Penguins were located on Brenton Island.

"We circled the Islands looking for affected Penguins and once located we put rescue teams ashore over rocks to safely capture the Penguins. The operation was made difficult by rough sea conditions."

The Penguins were brought into the Port of Ngqura aboard the sea rescue craft and aboard the SANParks craft and they have been transported to treatment centres at SAMREC (SA Marine Rehabilitation Centre) in Port Elizabeth and SANCCOB in Cape St Francis.

SANCCOB have appealed for towels and newspapers, used in the cleaning of the Penguins, to be brought to their offices in Cape St Francis or dropped off at the Wimpy in Jeffreys Bay.