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UPDATE: Tide of dead seabirds keeps rolling in
DOZENS of dead seabirds are still being washed up on Chesil Beach.
Local campaigners and conservationists claim the deaths are due to a deadly combination of freak storms, lumps of what is thought to be palm or vegetable oil and fishing equipment.
More than 100 birds, including razorbills, guillemots and gannets, have washed up around Chesil Cove over the past week along with lumps of a white, sticky substance.
Wildlife photographer and conservationist Steve Trewhella is urging authorities to take responsibility for removing the hazardous debris.
He has now taken matters into his own hands by attempting to get the pollution analysed to find out what it is and where it came from.
The Wareham resident said: “The whole beach is covered in these large lumps of what we believe to be either palm or vegetable oil.
“On the weekend, children were seen touching it and dogs eating it- it is hazardous and needs to be removed.
“Warning signs should have been put up alerting people to this pollution.”
It is thought that severe storms made it difficult for many birds to feed, making them weak, exhausted and hungry.
Mr Trewhella added: “Some of these birds have died due to natural causes with the unusual weather we have been having leading to starvation.
“Others have washed up trapped in fishing nets and covered in oil.
“The substance has a rancid smell. It is a danger to dogs and it must be a threat to wildlife.”
Local volunteers have been clearing up rubbish and rescuing birds.
Mr Trewhella said: “Most of this litter is from the shipping and fishing industry.
“Some of it is from as far away as Mexico, but the majority of it is fairly local.
“These birds are really under pressure at the moment from fishing, pollution, PIB oil and all these other pollutants.”
He added: “This is something that needs to be tackled at government level."
A spokesman for The Crown Estate said: “We are assessing the situation at Chesil Beach and liaising with relevant local organisations to help co-ordinate an appropriate response.”
The deaths follow the PIB [polyisobutene] incident last year, where more than 1,000 sea birds were found dead on the south coast, covered in a deadly sticky glue substance.
The incident led to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) reclassifying PIBs from 2014.
This means that ships can now only wash their tanks and dispose of all PIB residues in port.
Dorset Wildlife Trust urged anyone who finds dead or injured birds not to touch them and instead contact the Chesil Beach Centre or the RSPBA.
Concerned Wyke Regis resident Peter Minter said: “On Saturday morning people visiting Chesil Cove discovered that a lot of dead seabirds had been washed up.
“There were huge amounts of an oily, sticky white substance which after tests may be confirmed as palm oil also washed ashore early this month.
“The substance emits a pungent, overpowering odour.”
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