Prestige oil spill update
The number of dead oiled birds recovered from the Prestige oil spill in Spain has unexpectedly increased over the past week, according to the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife), the BirdLife International Partner organisation in Spain. After a period of two weeks in which the number of dead oiled birds recovered averaged between 20 and 30 per day, the daily average more than doubled to 72 per day after 26th December 2002. In the Province of A Coru?a 359 dead oiled birds were collected in five days.
On 28th December 2002, a total of 102 dead oiled birds were collected, the highest figure for a single day since the Prestige oil tanker sank in November. The number of live oiled birds recovered has also increased, but not as dramatically. The total number of affected birds (live and dead) recovered in the Province of A Coru?a now exceeds 2,000, bringing the total number recovered in Spain to 5,000. However, only a small proportion of the birds affected - approximately 10% to 20% - are being recovered by our volunteers, said SEO/BirdLife`s Seabird Campaigner, Carles Carboneras.
SEO/BirdLife has estimated that the total number of birds affected during the first month of the Prestige oil spill (16 Nov - 16 Dec) was between 20,000 and 40,000. The most affected species continue to be Puffin, Guillemot and Razorbill (77%). Other species affected include Gannet and Cormorant. It appears that changes in weather conditions and wind direction have blown more dead oiled birds towards the coast during a period of continued winter migratory movement, which during the past week saw more seabirds arrive off the coast of Galicia.
The increase in the number of dead oiled birds being found so long after the initial slick occurred is significant because it is almost unique amongst oil spills, and is without doubt related to the continued leakage of oil from the sunken wreck of the Prestige, said Carles Carboneras. All the indications are that oil from the Prestige will continue to affect the coast of Galicia as long as it continues to leak from the wreck. SEO/BirdLife therefore predicts that in the coming weeks the number of oiled birds affected will be even higher when more diverse species move into the area in February, he said.
Created: 3rd Jan 2003