Oil spill disaster

OILY BIRD: An oiled penguin in  its transport box. Picture: Supplied
OILY BIRD: An oiled
penguin in its transport box. Picture: Supplied

Number of penguins rescued rises to 151 after pollution fiasco

In what is now being described as a national disaster, the total number of endangered African penguins found covered in oil following spills in Algoa Bay around the Port of Ngqura has risen to 151.

Maritime authorities fear this may be the bay’s worst oil disaster in many years, while conservationists are concerned about the impact the spill will have on the region’s already vulnerable penguin populations and other sea life.

Stephen van der Spuy, veterinarian and executive director of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob), said there were 90 oiled penguins and 61 abandoned chicks at the rescue centres in Port Elizabeth and Cape St Francis.

Captain Neville Noble, port manager for the SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) at Ngqura, said the owners of a ship suspected of having caused the spill were fined R350 000 for spilling 100 litres of oil during a ship-to-ship transfer last Sunday.

It was initially reported as a diesel spill, but this was not the case.

Noble said Samsa were continuing their investigation as they believed there may have been two separate spills, though this was not yet confirmed.

They were also still trying to ascertain whether the spills would have come from the same source.

Noble said aerial surveys yesterday showed the oil was now cleaned up.

“This should never have happened. I cannot recall another spill this bad in a very long time,” he said.

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