A new oil spill along the coast of Brazil has claimed the lives of hundreds of penguins. All seem to be victims of a spill from an unidentified source. Most of the penguins found dead were in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. (Photos: CRAM/Rodolfo P. Silva)
At least 260 live penguins are now in care. The Center for the Recovery of Marine Animals (CRAM), one of the Penguin Network member organizations which is a partnership co-managed by IBRRC and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), is deploying personnel and responding with local organizations to help with oiled birds. The key institutions involved are CRAM (MO FURG); Associacao R3 Animal; CETAS-IBAMA and the local Environmental Police (Policia Militar Ambiental). This response is supported by the Petrobras’ mobile units for oiled wildlife response, through their Center for Environmental Defense (CDA – Itajaí).
The responsible for the oil leak has not been found and the exact location of the spill had not been located, although it is believed to be offshore Santa Catarina.
When birds come in contact with oil, their feathers lose their ability to keep bird warm and dry. They spend more time trying to clean their feathers, ingest oil, lose strength and many will freeze to death without human intervention.
In the winter of the southern hemisphere, thousands of Magellanic penguins travel as far as Brazil. They travel north through cold ocean currents as they search for food.