Monday, 11 April 2011

Another Disaster.

Northern Rockhopper Penguin. Copyright Angel Wanless.

If you thought the UK didn't have Penguins you'd be wrong. Nightingale Island is part of the Tristan da Cunha UK Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic, the island holds nearly half the world population of the Northern Rockhopper Penguin (NRP) which is currently involved in what could well turn out to be a twin environmental disaster.

The cargo vessel above has  recently been wrecked on this island causing serious pollution from the vessels 1,500 tonnes of fuel oil which has leaked out into the sea and surrounded Nightingale Island posing a major hazard to tens of thousands of pairs of the island's NRP, thousands have already come ashore. To bring about the 'twin' disaster is, if the vessel happens to be harbouring rats which get ashore to gain a foothold their impact could be the birth of a double disaster. 

All this is seen as a truly terrible situation, and one which conservationists appear to be able to do little about, it is impossible to comprehend how on earth a modern and fully laden cargo vessel could sail straight into an island, the consequences of which are already heading towards a disaster for wildlife not least of all one of the already most threatened species of penguin the globally endangered NRP. Nightingale Island and the adjacent Middle Island hold millions of nesting seabirds and the two together have 200,000 penguins which are heavily impacted by this leaking oil.

This shipwreck appears to be a consequence of human carelessness and ineptitude and you have to wonder....shouldn't the owners of this ship be made responsible for the payment of compensation for the impact of this disaster to both wildlife and the island as a whole.


Hopefully tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,
This disaster almost escaped the news completely; it got mentioned on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme weeks ago and nothing since. It was even difficult Googling it initially. Thanks for putting on here, and thanks for link to Marie Curie, much appreciated.

Geoff Gradwell said...


Insurance job!

Pete Woodruff said...

Yes, I must confess I'm a little out of date on this one Steve, but thought it important to highlight yet another environmental disaster. You are welcome to the Kilimanjaro link, and by the way I've yet to sponsor you but I will.

Thanks too GG.

Brian Rafferty said...

Peter. This is very bad news for the NRP and something I wasn't aware of.A shame you have to be the bearer of such bad news. The penguins obviously will not be able to fly away from the disaster area.

Hope everything else is OK with you and we can get out and enjoy some birding sometime this week although weather not looking brilliant. Speak to you soon.

Regards Brian

Pete Woodruff said...

Need to get up to date on this one Brian. I'm aware of a big clean up operation on the NRP's, but getting supplies to these islands isn't a quick fix.