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Oiled wildlife incident on Tristan da Cunha islands

Probably the worst “worst case” scenario that you could imagine: on 16th March the bulk carrier MS Oliva ran aground off the Tristan da Cunha Islands, a UK territory dubbed one of the remotest places on earth.The Tristan Islands are in the South Atlantic 2,816 kilometres east of Cape Town and are home to less than 300 people. There is no airport so all supplies and transport is by boat (5 days from Cape Town). After the grounding the vessel spilled the majority of its 1500t of heavy fuel oil bunkers into the sea. The Tristan Islands are home to approximately 60% of the world’s population of endangered Northern Rockhopper penguins and the oil spill unfortunately coincided with their moulting period, so penguins were on the coast unable to swim or feed and very susceptible to the effects of oiling. Reports of growing numbers of oiled penguins began coming in immediately.
A spill response operation had to be organised from Cape Town, in which Sea Alarm also assisted. The remote location of the islands meant serious logistical difficulties but eventually a response took place, including an attempt to capture and rehabilitate the oiled birds. The spill did not receive a lot of media coverage, but a reasonably extensive report with pictures can be found at

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