SABC News - Endangered African Penguins under threat following oil spill:Monday 22 August 2016

Endangered African Penguins under threat following oil spill

Monday 22 August 2016 19:38

Janine Lee

St Croix hosts 55% of the world’s African Penguins.

St Croix hosts 55% of the world’s African Penguins.(REUTERS)

The number of oil-soaked penguins rescued from Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape continues to rise. The endangered African Penguins in the Bay are under threat following a massive oil spill.

The penguins were rescued off the breeding islands of Bird and St Croix.

Oil reduces sea birds' insulating capabilities, making them vulnerable to temperature changes. It is believed oil was spilled during a ship to ship transfer.

Marine Co-Ordinator at South African National Parks (SANParks), Dr Ané Oosthuizen, says,"It was one of the biggest spills we have seen in Algoa Bay in several years. It was contained fairly quickly and we were helped as the oil was washed out of the bay quickly. The rest was cleaned up. The reason why it is important for the penguin is because on St Croix we have 55% of the world’s African Penguin. So should something happen we will be in dire straits."

One hundred and fifty birds have been cleaned in what is a messy and dangerous job.

South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre’s (SAMREC) Thomas Morris says, “We are expecting more birds but unfortunately, the weather is not allowing us onto the island. So we just have to be patient and wait for the weather to subside so we can get out there.”

Samples of the oil have been sent to Pretoria for testing.

The results are expected later this week and the spilling culprit will then be identified.

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