Europe and Central Asia
19 Jan 2017

Major oil spill in Turkey; emergency teams deployed [PHOTOS]

Common Coots have been badly affected by the spill © Doğa Derneği
Common Coots have been badly affected by the spill © Doğa Derneği
By Doğa Derneği

A major oil spill is affecting coastal areas in western Turkey. Doğa Derneği (Birdlife Turkey) has deployed an emergency team of volunteers to help oiled wildlife.

In the clear waters of Izmit Bay in western Turkey, a major oil spill is putting human health and marine biodiversity at risk. The spill occurred last Friday near the rich Key Biodiversity Area of Kocaeli Tepeleri, affecting bird species such as European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis, Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo and Common Coot Fulica atra.

Over the weekend, locals rang the alarm as oiled birds and deep-sea marine life started washing up ashore. As soon as the leakage began, Doğa’s Local Conservation Groups began work to rescue the affected wildlife, transferring them to the nearest wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre, Faruk Yalçın Zoo.

Birds and marine life have been found dead in the coast of Izmit in Western Turkey © Doğa Derneği 

Itri Levent Erkol, Conservation Manager at Doğa Derneği, visited the coast and surrounding marine areas as soon as they were informed of the disaster. “Even if officially the cleaning and rescue work is now considered finished, we are still finding dead bodies of cormorants and coots”, says Erkol. “We are even finding oiled birds alive and citizens are having to take them home to clean them up, which is not recommended.”

Volunteers and locals have been taking oiled wildlife to rescue centres - the Coot above is in good hands now © Doğa Derneği

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Erkol also visited Faruk Yalçın Zoo to find out how the rescued birds were faring © Doğa Derneği


Zoo officials informed Erkol that 17 of 58 rescued birds died for different reasons related to the oil spill, but the conditions of the survivors are improving.  

The rescued wildlife waiting to be released at Faruk Yalçın Zoo © Doğa Derneği


Doğa’s president, Dicle Tuba Kılıç, called government officials to make an official announcement stating the companies responsible for the oil spill and to give official data on the affected wildlife.

“We’re worried the oil threat is still present for birds that winter in the area,” said Erkol.

Although nearly a week has passed since the catastrophic event, official statements have not yet been made about who is responsible for the spill or regarding any official rescue operations.

“This disastrous event once more shows that Turkey is not ready to handle oil spills, even at regional level” says Erkol. “More wildlife rescue centres should be established at key areas and official rescue work should be carried out – with the support of volunteers from local and national NGOs.”

Do you want to help? Donate to support Doga’s work at with the communication ‘’Izmit oil spill”.

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.