PORT ELIZABETH – A large number of oiled penguins have been rescued for cleaning at the St Croix Island group in Algoa Bay, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said on Sunday.

On Saturday morning, NSRI Port Elizabeth duty crew launched the sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer IV and Spirit of Surfski II, and the SA National Parks (SANParks) rigid inflatable boat JMB Malusi, skippered by NSRI, was launched carrying NSRI volunteers, SANParks rangers, and SA Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) members, NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander Ian Gray said.

This followed a request by SANParks made to NSRI Port Elizabeth to assist in the search and recovery of oiled African penguins at St Croix Island and the adjacent smaller Jaheel Island and Brenton Island – off-shore of the deepwater Port of Ngqura, Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth, he said.

During this past week SANParks and SANCCOB had reportedly recovered a number of oiled penguins in the area washed up on beaches suspected to have been oiled from an oil spill believed to have occurred during a ship-to-ship oil transfer still under investigation by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

NSRI, SANCCOB, and SANParks recovered 47 penguins – 32 adults and 15 chicks – in Saturday’s operation. They were located and recovered from St Croix Island and Jaheel Island. No affected penguins were located on Brenton Island.

“We circled the islands looking for affected penguins and once located we put rescue teams ashore over rocks to safely capture the penguins. The operation was made difficult by rough sea conditions,” Gray said.

The penguins were brought into the Port of Ngqura aboard the sea rescue craft and aboard the SANParks craft and were transported to treatment centres at the SA Marine Rehabilitation Centre (SAMREC) in Port Elizabeth and SANCCOB in Cape St Francis.

“SANCCOB have appealed for towels and newspapers, used in the cleaning of the penguins, to be brought to their offices in Cape St Francis or dropped off at Wimpy in Jeffreys Bay,” Gray said.

– African News Agency

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