Birds recovering from Spanish oil spill

The first birds to be rescued from the Prestige oil spill in Spain are being released back into the wild off the coast of Portugal.

A team of workers from the International Bird Rescue Research Centre are continuing to care for 330 birds rescued from the oil slick, about 40 of which will be transported to Portugal and released on the shores of Bahia de Setubal.

Jay Holcomb, Director of IBRRC, said the rehabilitation of the birds was the first good news since the accident happened. “It has been difficult to find a location where the birds could be released because the whole coast in this part of Spain is getting oil washed ashore. In consultation with all the Spanish experts we have chosen this area of Portugal because it already has good colonies of birds and it is not too far for us to transport them.”

The birds, including razorbills, guillemots, puffins, loons, scoters and gulls, are being released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare with the help of local authorities.

Birds caught in the oil, often suffering from hypothermia and dehydration, continue to be delivered to the rescue centre where international teams feed them with tubes, wash and dry them and place them in recovery pools to help them regain their waterproofing.

In 2000, IBRRC and IFAW successfully masterminded the rescue of 40,000 African penguins following an oil spill along the coast near Cape Town (see related story).

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