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Prestige Oil Spill Latest

Balearic Shearwaters found dead…

With hundreds of seabirds of 18 species already oiled and more coming ashore all the time, BirdLife International fears that thousands of seabirds could be oiled by the reported 160km slick from the Prestige which sank off the Spanish Galician coast. If worse weather arrives, migrating seabirds may be attracted to seemingly calm oil-covered water, resulting in many becoming oiled and dying out at sea.Volunteers from the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife) have already recorded hundreds of oiled seabirds including Razorbills, Northern Gannets, Guillemots, Shags and sea ducks on the coast. Now that the Prestige has sunk the risk to these and over a dozen other seabird species present the area has increased significantly, said Carlota Viada of SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife International Partner in Spain). SEO/BirdLife volunteers are monitoring beaches and working with other NGOs and the authorities to help in any way they can in the aftermath of this ecological disaster. Oiled birds that can be treated are being taken to recovery centres along the coast, she said.BirdLife International is concerned that a number of bird species could be affected including the critically endangered Balearic Shearwater which moves through this area during migration, the unique local Iberian race of Guillemot, auks from the British and French populations which over-winter in, or migrate through, the area, as well as several species of shearwater, petrel and gull. An area of coastline that runs 100 km from Cape Finisterre to Malpica appears to be worst hit by the oil slick. This area is particularly important for migratory seabirds. One of seven Important Bird Areas (IBAs) on the Spanish Galician coast is now covered with oil and three more coastal IBAs face a similar fate as oil continues to be washed ashore. So far the spill has affected beaches, sand dunes, rocks, wetlands and coastal lagoons, all of which are important habitats for seabirds, waterfowl and waders. Antonio Sandoval of SEO/BirdLife, the BirdLife International Partner in Spain said The discovery of two dead oiled Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwaters Puffinus mauretanicus and report that a passage of 50 Balearic Shearwaters per hour was observed off Cabo Penas in Asturias on Saturday 25th November heading west towards the affected area are also more cause for concern.To help prevent further spills BirdLife International advocates that liability be imposed for damage caused to all species and habitats protected under EU and Member State legislation and the rapid phasing-out of single-hulled oil tankers in favour of double-hulled vessels. All EU states that have not ratified the relevant International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conventions also need to do so without delay because, without ratification, they are not enforceable.The number of bird species reported oiled by the Prestige spill has risen from 18 to 33 according to the latest data from Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife) volunteers monitoring the coast of Galicia in Spain. The first two Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwaters have also been found dead. The new data for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of November also shows that dozens more oiled birds were recorded over the weekend. This is in addition to the more than 500 oiled birds and 29 dead oiled birds recorded or collected previously. The new data includes wading species reported oiled for the first time, including the Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica and Curlew Numenius arquata.BirdLife International is concerned by the discovery of oiled Guillemots because the relict Iberian population of this specie numbers fewer than 100 breeding pairs with only two tiny colonies of 12 pairs in Spain in the area of Galicia affected by the Prestige oil spill: Vilano Cape and Sisargas Islands, on the Costa da Morte, both of which are protected as part of the European Union`s (EU) Natura 2000 network.The global bird conservation organisation is also concerned about the relatively high numbers of oiled Razorbills and Gannets found. Both species winter in the area and come from breeding colonies in the British Isles and Northern France. Given that they mainly feed on fish, pollution from the Prestige oil spill could also affect their food supplies. Today SEO/BirdLife staff will attempt to go to sea to evaluate the impact of the oil slick on pelagic seabirds. SEO/BirdLife volunteers have also started to observe partially oiled seabirds including Guillemots and Razorbills heading south from southern of Galicia, Antonio Sandoval said.Balearic Shearwater
The first Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater has been reported oiled by the Prestige spill according to the latest official data from wildlife recovery centres in Galicia, Spain, the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife). The latest data from 21st November show that 260 oiled birds and 29 dead oiled birds have been collected and sent for cleaning so far. This is in addition to 250 birds recorded oiled on the coast by SEO/BirdLife volunteers earlier this week. The most affected species are Razorbill, Gannet and Guillemot. BirdLife International is concerned by the discovery of oiled Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus. This species numbers an estimated 1,750-2,125 pairs and moves through the affected area during migration. It was recently identified as Critically Endangered during the preparation of the new edition of the Spanish Red List of Threatened Birds. Birds of this species are dispersing into the Atlantic Ocean from breeding colonies in the Balearic Islands at the moment, including coastal waters off the Spanish and Portuguese Atlantic coasts.In 1991, the population of this species was estimated to be approximately 3,300 breeding pairs. By 2000 this had been reduced to 1,750-2,125 pairs (SEO/BirdLife, 2001). This represents a decline of 47% in nine years. If continued, this would equate to a decline of 97.8% in 54 years or three generations. Population models also predict a >50% probability of extinction in three generations. The population declines appear to have resulted principally from predation by cats and other terrestrial carnivores. Further threats include accidental bycatch in longline fisheries, habitat destruction and degradation at nesting colonies, and environmental pollution.For more information contact BirdLife International Communications Manager Michael Szabo in Cambridge, UK, on +44 (0)1223 279903 or +44 (0)7779 018 332 (mobile) orSEO/BirdLife Conservation Officer, Carlota Viada in La Coruna, Spain, on +34 629 448822 (mobile).

4th July 2014