Last penguin chicks released from mystery oil spill in Algoa Bay

AUGUST 7, 2015

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) released the four orphaned African penguin chicks admitted to its centre in Cape St. Francis after a mystery oil spill hit Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth) during the third week of May.

Thirty oiled African penguins and the four penguin chicks were admitted from Bird and St. Croix islands, after being rescued by rangers from the Marine Section of the Addo Elephant National Park (SANParks).

The adult oiled penguins were all released back into the wild by 11 July, after being successfully rehabilitated and approved for release by SANCCOB’s veterinary team. In addition to the oiled penguins, SANCCOB also cared for four African penguin chicks that had to be rescued after their parents had been oiled by the spill.

After undergoing 13 weeks of rehabilitation at SANCCOB, these chicks have now reached fledging age, are in good health and have gained the natural waterproofing of their brand new, blue-grey feathers, which is needed for them to survive in the wild. 

“It is a bittersweet celebration, releasing these penguins back into the wild after seeing them grow into healthy juvenile penguins. But we are proud of all the staff and volunteers involved in the rescue operation and helping us to achieve a 100% release rate for all the birds admitted to SANCCOB during the spill,” said Juanita Raath (Rehabilitation Coordinator).

Appropriately, the Marine Rangers at SANParks, the penguins’ original rescuers, transported and released these chicks directly back into their St. Croix- and Bird Island colonies yesterday.

While all of the penguins affected by the oil spill have been released back into the wild, the source of the oil spill still remains uncertain – a bothersome scenario, considering that Algoa Bay is home to approximately 60% of South Africa’s endangered African penguin population.

As a non-profit organisation, SANCCOB thanks the public for their contributions toward the rehabilitation and hand-rearing costs of these 34 endangered African penguins and their successful release back into the wild. Help SANCCOB recover the remaining costs of providing this vital service and donate online by visiting www.sanccob.co.za or through an electronic funds transfer to:

SANCCOB

First National Bank

Account #: 59 23 713 5859

Branch: 203809

Account type: Current

Swift code: FIRNZAJJ461

Reference: Initials, surname & OIL 

For further information, please contact SANCCOB Eastern Cape on 042 298 0160, 082 890 0207 or [email protected]