Cleaning up after the Apollo Sea
The species Spheniscus demersus, more commonly known as South African penguins, also called Jackass penguins, have fallen victim to the negligence of oil carriers. The population of South African penguins has decreased from 3 million to less than 150,000 in the past century (Singer 2000). The cause of this unfortunate decrease in population are the many oil spills near southern Africa, with the first oil spill occurring in 1948 (Whittington 1999). Since 1968, the Southern African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) has made attempts to rehabilitate oiled penguins (Whittington 1999). SANCCOB has treated some 40,000 oiled penguins in the past 30 years. Oil on the penguins’ feathers removes the waterproofing that the penguins rely on for insulation, which can ultimately lead to death (Singer 2000). In the 1994 incident caused by the Apollo Sea, a Panamanian ore carrier, on June 20th, a total of 9,600 oiled penguins were collected, 5,200 of these birds died before the end of rehabilitation. The rescue operation to save the penguins cost about $US300,000. The specialists of the SANCCOB have established many methods of rehabilitation in feeding, cleaning, and waterproofing this quickly diminishing species (Konings 1997). Many studies have been conducted using metal bands to determine the success rate for the rehabilitated penguins (Whittington 1999). Materials and Methods
Penguins collected from Dassen Island and Robben Island, South Africa were transported to SANCCOB. Once there, the penguins were re-hydrated with 30-50cc diluted Darrows solution. They were also given activated charcoal to absorb the oil ingested by the birds. Depending on the health of the penguins, they were fed one of four ways. In the first method, the tubing method, the volunteers force fed the penguins a purée of dead fish. In the next method, the fish offering/self-feeding method, the birds were trained to receive...
Cited: KONINGS, CHRIS. 1997. Coastal Oil Spill: Apollo Sea Shipping Disaster--June 1994. Journal of Contingencies & Crisis Management Vol. 5: 118-120.
SINGER, RENA. 2000. South Africa’s oil-soaked penguins get a scrubbing. Christian Science Monitor Vol. 92: 7.
WHITTINGTON, P.A. 1999. The contribution made by cleaning oiled African Penguins Spheniscus demersus to population dynamics and conservation of the species. Marine Ornithology Vol. 27: 177-180.
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