Tragic impact on wildlife from New Zealand oil disaster

By ForestBird, Thu, 13/10/2011 - 15:48

Hundreds of dead birds have already been found along the Bay of Plenty coastline as a result of the Rena oil spill disaster but these represent just a fraction of the affected wildlife, Forest & Bird (BirdLife in New Zealand) have said. “The number of birds being found washed up on the beaches will be a very small proportion of the birds being affected”, Forest & Bird’s Seabird Conservation Advocate Karen Baird said. “A lot of oil-covered birds will simply sink at sea and some of the more lightly oiled birds will be flying back to their colonies.”

Many seabirds are currently breeding on offshore islands in the Bay of Plenty and nearby regions and any impact on the parent birds will also affect their chicks. These seabirds breed in burrows so any birds with oil on their feathers could carry that oil into their nests and harm their chicks as well. If the parent birds have swallowed oil, both they and any chicks they feed are likely to die or be harmed, and the chicks of parents that die will starve.

Karen Baird said it was important that experts should get out to the breeding colonies to check on the harm occurring there. Among the dead birds recorded so far are 178 Common Diving-petrels Pelecanoides urinatrix, 114 Fluttering Shearwaters Puffinus gavia, 68 Buller’s Shearwaters Puffinus bulleri and 13 Little Penguins Eudyptula minor, along with smaller numbers of albatrosses and other species of petrel.

“The fact the dead birds include numbers of Buller’s Shearwaters is significant, because they only breed on the Poor Knights Islands north of Auckland. This shows the zone of impact from the disaster has already spread outside the Bay of Plenty”,  she said.

Eleven oiled Little Penguins were taken to the Oiled Wildlife Response Unit in Mount Maunganui overnight and five New Zealand Dotterels Charadrius obscurus had been removed from areas threatened by oil pollution at Matakana Island, Maketu and Pukehina. “These three areas are important strongholds for New Zealand Dotterels, which are going into their breeding season. This is a highly endangered species, with only around 1,500 birds estimated to exist”, Karen Baird said.

Other species besides seabirds and shorebirds are being threatened. Five oiled seals were being treated and there are serious concerns for whales, dolphins and coastal fish species in the area.

Download a map of the affected area and its relation to seabird breeding sites Click here to subscribe to The BirdLife Pacific Quarterly E-Newsletter.

Pacific New Zealand


A thought... In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, when God gave Adam dominion over the birds of the air, the animals, the fish, etc., do you think he meant total control as to destroy at will as well? No he did not, in Aramaic this word "domain" actually means "the responsibility for the care of all of his Creation" (GOD).

I agree with you totally.

So little media attention to this issue.

prener les choses en main et agissez de tout votre coeur arréton nos destructions;vivons avec la nature!

Just an update from Maketu. We have a colony of some 12 pairs of NZ Dotterell, and there are 4 pairs at Pukehina, on then other side of the point. 8 were taen into p[rotectove custody on Wednesday, and more cpturedon Matakana Island yesterday. The team is currently trapping at Matata furthjer east as the il has spread down there. Currently the wind is offshore, and we have little oil on the beaches, and small amounts in the two harbours of Maketu and Litte Waihi. Two of the doterell captured at Maketu had oil on their feet, cleaned off with gin! The death toll as of last night was 801, mainly petrels, especially diving petrel, fluttering sheawater and Bullers Shearwater, but also including 2 albatross. Fortunately NZ Dotterel do not feature on th list, though if the oil comes back, as it most probably will, we are likely to see some fatalites. We are doing what we can to take measures to reduce this risk.

We're watching with broken hearts :(. God speed to the clean up crews.

How can anyone look at that picture and not feel absolutely disgusted ,fed up and shattered ,these poor animals suffer through the negligence,stupidity and indifference we humans expose them to ,sad part about it is we are not -learning from our mistakes as we just go from one disarste to another,governments have to tighten up on those involved with the sea ,boats ,oil rigs etc.the wild life suffers -horribly and perhaps will never recover,the ones responsible aren't punished enough and try to escape blame and responsiblity for what they have done ,now they want to destroy the pristine waters of the antartic with their filthy oil,and in doing so help in the fast demise of the animals who are just surviving. 'When all the trees have been cut down ,all the animals have been hunted ,the air is unsafe to breathe ,only then will man-discover-you cannot eat -money

If we continue to use so much petroleum, then terrible events like this will continue to happen. I have reduced my energy usage by more than 80% by judiciously driving a hybrid auto, installing a geothermal heating system in my home, and by installing HID and LED lighting. I also refuse to fly if train passage is available. In addition, I am a vegetarian who grows much of my own food. Believe me, I am a very 'normal' person. I just choose to live more efficiently than most people. Now imagine what the world would be like if we all lived like this...

never read anything in the british newspapers about the oil spill its time for newzealand to pass a law that any tankers in their waters are double hulled with large fines also let us appaud those that are doing there best to save the birds

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