Rescue effort continues after hundreds of birds washed up along Dorset coastline

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  • *More than 300 birds, dead and alive, have washed up over the past several days.
  • *The Environment Agency says the birds have been contaminated by a 'refined mineral-based oil mixture'. But there is no suggestion yet where it has come from.
  • *The birds started being washed up on Wednesday and the situation has been getting worse.
  • *Members of the public are urged to stay away and leave the experts to deal with injured birds.
  • *The rescue operation will continue at Portland today. Keep logged on to dorsetecho.co.uk for all of the latest updates.
  • *If you have any pictures or videos, email them to newsdesk@dorsetecho.co.uk or call 01305 830999.

3:48pm

DORSET Wildlife Trust is urging members of the public not to try and rescue washed up birds.

Marc Smith, of DWT, said the RSPCA should be informed immediately if more birds are found. 

He said: "We know the public are keen to help but we strongly advise they do not try to rescue the birds.

"We do not want anyone putting themselves in danger and if the birds are not handled correctly they can end up exhausted which reduces their chance of survival."

Contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

3:44pm

MARC Smith, of Dorset Wildlife Trust, with one of the affected birds on Chesil Beach.

Photo taken by Angela Thomas, assistant warden at Chesil Bank and Fleet Nature Reserve.

Dorset Echo:

3:30pm

THE count rises as more birds have been found washed up along the Dorset coastline.

Over the last four days, a total of 200 birds have been rescued so far.

Around 20 birds were rescued this morning and 20 were found dead.

Of this number, a total of 14 were rescued from around Chesil Cove.

Another 30 birds were found at Swanage yesterday with reports of more being found today.

Marc Smith, of Dorset Wildlife Trust, said:  “Our concern now is that the wind has changed direction which will start pushing the birds out to sea.

"As the days go on the birds will become colder and more exhausted, lowering their chances of survival.

"Birds may start to wash up in different areas now because of this wind change.

"The number of birds is staggering and there is a wider concern of the long term impact this could potentially have on the marine environment as a whole.

"Dorset’s coastline is rich in marine wildlife including dolphins, sharks and seals."

He added: "We do not know if this substance will enter the food chain or if other animals are being affected.

"Only time will tell what the long term effects of this environmental disaster will be.”

Most birds have washed up in Chesil Cove, which is part of a newly proposed Marine Protected Area.

3:11pm

2:15pm

SOUTH Dorset MP Richard Drax praised the efforts of rescuers helping to clean contaminated seabirds.

Mr Drax has been down to Chesil Beach this morning to talk to rescuers.

He said: "The teams on Portland are doing a marvellous job.

"One man told me he had rescued three birds this morning and was taking them to Somerset to treat.

"He let me touch one of the birds and the substance they are covered in is absolutely awful.

"It felt almost like glue to touch, let us hope they find the cause of this as soon as possible."

Investigations into where the substance has come from are still underway.

12:04pm

DORSET Wildlife Trust says a change of wind is limiting rescuers ability to recover affected birds.

A spokeswoman for Dorset Wildlife Trust said: "The north west offshore wind is now blowing many seabirds out to sea which will limit the rescuers ability to recover the affected victims of the toxic man-made mineral oil.

"This will also increase the overall number of fatalities."

Today has seen 10 dead birds washed up along Chesil Beach and two alive.

The RSPCA and DWT are working together to co-ordinate the rescue operation.

 

11:27am

10:27am

ANOTHER six birds have been found dead off Portland this morning.

Chesil Beach officer Marc Smith said: "When the rescue operation was coming to an end last night we could still see loads of birds in the water around Portland.

"This morning we found six dead and another contaminated on beaches around the island.

"The numbers are less but it could be because of a change in wind which is blowing the birds along the coastline."

10:10am

THE substance found on hundreds of seabirds washed up on the south coast is a 'mixture of refined mineral oils', the Environment Agency has said.

Some 200 birds - mostly guillemots - are being treated at RSPCA centres along the southern coast after they were washed ashore covered in the white, sticky substance.

Many have been washed ashore at Portland and the death toll in total so far along the coast has reached 200.

Rescuers will be out again this weekend but fear that the figure may rise.

10:06am

Comments (7)

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9:13pm Sat 2 Feb 13

rjimmer says...

I walked about a quarter mile of the beach at Langton Herring yesterday but found just one dead guillemot and one dead Razorbill.
I walked about a quarter mile of the beach at Langton Herring yesterday but found just one dead guillemot and one dead Razorbill. rjimmer
  • Score: 0

11:12pm Sat 2 Feb 13

knickerlessparsons says...

If this were happening 30-40 years ago, everyone would be doing their bit and combing the beaches in a joint effort to capture these stricken sea birds. Instead we are told to leave it to the experts who are probably undermanned and cannot possibly cover the entire Dorset coastline by themselves. If the RSPCA, RSPB and Dorset Wildlife Trust co-ordinated a combined initiative along with the safety aspect of the coastguard, many hundreds of local volunteers could get involved with the detection and subsequent rescue of our valuable sea birds. It's a shame that we have now become a "nanny state" with those that would dearly like to help turned away.
If this were happening 30-40 years ago, everyone would be doing their bit and combing the beaches in a joint effort to capture these stricken sea birds. Instead we are told to leave it to the experts who are probably undermanned and cannot possibly cover the entire Dorset coastline by themselves. If the RSPCA, RSPB and Dorset Wildlife Trust co-ordinated a combined initiative along with the safety aspect of the coastguard, many hundreds of local volunteers could get involved with the detection and subsequent rescue of our valuable sea birds. It's a shame that we have now become a "nanny state" with those that would dearly like to help turned away. knickerlessparsons
  • Score: 0

10:32am Sun 3 Feb 13

annotator1 says...

Palm Oil I hear is a probable culprit. From a tanker flushing its tanks out at sea illegally.
Another issue caused indirectly by leveling the Rain Forest if it is palm oil.
Palm Oil I hear is a probable culprit. From a tanker flushing its tanks out at sea illegally. Another issue caused indirectly by leveling the Rain Forest if it is palm oil. annotator1
  • Score: 0

10:54am Sun 3 Feb 13

PORTLAND ROVER says...

Why can't we have a Local station set up to Clean these Birds? I am sure we could set one up on Portland, So many would like to help to clean them, Myself included! Why drive them to Somerset? We can help here!! A
Why can't we have a Local station set up to Clean these Birds? I am sure we could set one up on Portland, So many would like to help to clean them, Myself included! Why drive them to Somerset? We can help here!! A PORTLAND ROVER
  • Score: 0

11:03am Sun 3 Feb 13

rodin says...

A ship being towed sank off Torbay on 13 January 2013.

Its tug was also damaged but later limped into Portland...
A ship being towed sank off Torbay on 13 January 2013. Its tug was also damaged but later limped into Portland... rodin
  • Score: 0

11:38am Sun 3 Feb 13

PORTLAND ROVER says...

RODIN, The ship that was being towed, had been cleaned of all hydrocarbons and was in a fit state to be sunk as a Reef. This was a unfortunate incident, that, in the end was actually fortunate. This refined Oil could not have come from this vessel. The damaged tug, did not have this oil aboard. It is possible that this substance has come from shipping in the Channel, or even the southwest approaches and Casquette Rocks separation scheme. I have no doubt the culprit will be found, as this substance in its refined state was obviously a cargo residue that was dumped off of a tanker either during tank cleaning, machinery failure, or other human error. This is my own view based upon the information made public so far. A
RODIN, The ship that was being towed, had been cleaned of all hydrocarbons and was in a fit state to be sunk as a Reef. This was a unfortunate incident, that, in the end was actually fortunate. This refined Oil could not have come from this vessel. The damaged tug, did not have this oil aboard. It is possible that this substance has come from shipping in the Channel, or even the southwest approaches and Casquette Rocks separation scheme. I have no doubt the culprit will be found, as this substance in its refined state was obviously a cargo residue that was dumped off of a tanker either during tank cleaning, machinery failure, or other human error. This is my own view based upon the information made public so far. A PORTLAND ROVER
  • Score: 0

1:57pm Mon 4 Feb 13

knickerlessparsons says...

@PORTLAND ROVER -- I totally agree with you regarding the cleaning up of seabirds. Given that so many have now been washed up and captured along our shores, it would seem a sensible idea to set up a temporary station to deal with the cleaning and stabilisation of the birds in the quickest and most efficient way possible, rather than putting them through any additional stress by driving them an hour away to West Hatch still covered in contaminant. If allowed, the birds will naturally preen and try to clean themselves off, subsequently ingesting the contaminant prior to their arrival at the centre. A temporary more local rescue station would avoid this problem and give the birds a better window of survival. After all, we don't know how much longer this will continue to endanger the marine life around our shores. This may only be the tip of the iceberg.
@PORTLAND ROVER -- I totally agree with you regarding the cleaning up of seabirds. Given that so many have now been washed up and captured along our shores, it would seem a sensible idea to set up a temporary station to deal with the cleaning and stabilisation of the birds in the quickest and most efficient way possible, rather than putting them through any additional stress by driving them an hour away to West Hatch still covered in contaminant. If allowed, the birds will naturally preen and try to clean themselves off, subsequently ingesting the contaminant prior to their arrival at the centre. A temporary more local rescue station would avoid this problem and give the birds a better window of survival. After all, we don't know how much longer this will continue to endanger the marine life around our shores. This may only be the tip of the iceberg. knickerlessparsons
  • Score: 0

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