17 July 2011

Tristan's last rehabilitated rockhoppers released

TRISTAN DA CUNHA - Almost three months after the MS Oliva ran aground on Nightingale Island, the rockhopper rescue on Tristan da Cunha is over, with the last 180 oiled northern rockhopper penguins released into the sea on on 21 June. This followed the release of 57 penguins on 12 June.

According to Tina Glass's report on the Tristan da Cunha website, a total of 381 of the original 3718 birds have been safely returned so sea, which is an approximate survival rate of 10%.

Ms Glass said that the reason for the low survival rate is that when the birds were first oiled they were all at the end of their moulting cycle - hungry and thirsty and at their weakest - so, despite huge efforts by Tristan Islanders and experts from SANCCOB and the RSPB, most died.

The low survival rate may be disappointing, but at least this means that nearly 400 penguins who would have died without human intervention are alive and back in the wild where they belong. Hopefully these survivors will return to land in August to breed and bolster the population of this endangered bird.

Thank you, penguin rescuers, for your heroic efforts! 

Source
MS Oliva Tristan-based diary, Tristan da Cunha Association: accessed 16 July 2011

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