Shipwreck threatens island's rare penguins

Emily Beament,Press Association
Tuesday 22 March 2011 01:00 GMT
Comments

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

A wrecked ship is threatening to cause an environmental disaster on an island which is home to endangered penguins, conservationists warned yesterday.

The vessel has grounded on Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic, causing an oil slick around the island which is home to nearly half the world's population of northern rockhopper penguins.

Some 1,500 tonnes of heavy crude oil from the MS Olivia, which was shipping soya beans between Rio de Janeiro and Singapore, is leaking into the sea.

According to the RSPB, oil now surrounds Nightingale Island, part of the Tristan da Cunha UK overseas territory, and extends into a slick eight miles offshore, threatening the endangered penguins and the economically important rock lobster fishery.

Hundreds of penguins have already been seen coming ashore covered in oil, the wildlife charity said. The shipwreck may also lead to any rats onboard colonising the island and posing a huge risk to the native seabird populations – whose chicks and eggs could be eaten by the invasive rodents.

The Tristan da Cunha islands, in particular Nightingale and its neighbour Middle Island, are home to millions of nesting seabirds.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in