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.
I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....