Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

** 23 August UPDATE ** Tristan oiling disaster. "Tristan" the oiled albatross finally flies away

Oliva oiling disaster update

"Tristan", the only albatross (molly) known to be oiled by the Oliva disaster, finally flew away last month  On 16 July the fledgling Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos left the main island of Tristan, where it had been looked after in captivity since 23 March.  It was cleaned of oil on 11 April.

Information from http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsolivatristan.php

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A profusely illustrated 11-page account of the Oliva oiling disaster has now been published in No. 49 (August 2011) of the Tristan da Cunha Newsletter.  The article takes readers through a timeline of the disaster and incudes many photographs not previously published, including of  ''Tristan'', the oiled fledgling Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos.  The bird was cleaned of its oil on 11 April but was still in captivity "alive and well" on 11 July.

Click here to order a copy and to view the table of contents of the August and earlier issues of the newsletter.

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A review of the Oliva oiling disaster has been published in the latest issue of BirdLife International's World Birdwatch magazine.  The illustrated article states that the funding appeal made by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has so far raised GBP 68 000 towards rescue and environmental restoration efforts.

The funds raised will help ensure that Tristan da Cunha has sufficient resources to deal with any future oiling incidents without having to wait for supplies from outside.

Reference:

Langley, N. 2011.  Oil spill strikes at heart of Northern Rockhopper Penguin colony.  World Birdwatch 33(2): 22-23.

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The last 180 Northern Rockhopper Penguins oiled from the wreck of the Oliva on Nightingale Island on 16 March this year were released on the main island of Tristan da Cunha on 21 June, bringing the total number of birds released after cleaning to 381, out of a total of 3718 oiled birds collected.  This is a release rate of 10.2%.

The penguins were each identified with a marking of pink dye on their white chests.

The single fledgling Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos, nicknamed "Molly", that was collected oiled from Nightingale on 25 March still remains in captivity, but there are plans to release it.

Visit the Tristan da Cunha web site at www.tristandc.com  to read more about the Oliva oiling from its inception and to view pictures of the final release.

With thanks to Richard Grundy, Editor, Tristan da Cunha Newsletter 

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There was a further release of 57 penguins on 12 June and on 14 June there were 167 live penguins ashore, 214 released of 3718 total = 10.2% survival.  [information from Richard Grundy, Tristan da Cunha Association, 20 June 2011]

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Success of Adopt a Penguin scheme: report from Dawn Repetto, Tristan da Cunha Tourism Co-ordinator (http://www.tristandc.com/visitscruises.php)

"The Adopt a Penguin scheme was set up in response to the Oliva disaster at Nightingale and the rescue of Rockhopper Penguins.  Visitors, especially those from cruise ships who saw the efforts being made to save the lives of oiled penguins paid £50 to adopt a penguin and a certificate was issued as a souvenir.  On each certificate was the adopter's name and the name of the penguin which the individual chose.  Lots of lovely names were chosen including Slick, Rocky, Guppie, Zuul, Calshot, Cordelia, Pinguini, Lyrian, Julie,  Mees, Noor and Limahl.

A total of UK£2500 was raised from the scheme and all funds went to the Environmental Disaster Fund.  This money will assist with the local monitoring of penguins in the months and years ahead. A big thank you to everyone who donated."

Donations may also be made via  https://www.rspb.org.uk/applications/donations/single/index.aspx?dt=APLITH0222

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It is pleasing to report that on 30 May 120 penguins were released from the pen on East Beach. It only took the first one to take the plunge and the others followed in swift pursuit. Unfortunately one Rockhopper decided he was not ready to go so was returned to the pen. The release was watched with great excitement by the school children and many others gathered to watch.

Report from Tina Glass via http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsolivatristan.php where pictures of the release may be viewed.

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 The penguin rehabilitation project team continue to work relentlessly in all weathers, in an effort to secure the successful release of clean, healthy, waterproof birds.  The team is now working in three specific areas, namely the west pen, the beach (release pen) and the ICU shed.  As of today there are just 30 birds remaining in the west pen with a further 60 having been moved down to the beach release pen this morning.  The remaining 30 birds still require more weight gain before being transferred.  These birds were weighed again this morning with weights recorded ranging from 1.2 - 1.4 kg.  Once these penguins are nearing the 1.5kg mark they will be transferred down to the release pen, after which the west pen will be dismantled and the surrounding areas cleared and cleaned.

 

 East Beach Release Pool

There are now 337 birds being housed in the beach release pen.  This pen has been sub-divided into three separate sections: the west section for birds just below 1.5kg; the central area for those weighing between 1.5 kg - 1.7 kg; and the east section for birds above 1.7 kg. Birds that have been transferred to the east section are not only of the appropriate weight for release, but have also gone through vigorous checks by the team for waterproofing.

Trial Release on 21 May

With this in mind, it was decided to carry out a trial release of 25 of the fittest birds on Saturday 21 May.  The birds were released from the pen where they headed straight down to the sea into the open water. They set off in groups, with a few stragglers at the back. Of the 25 that were released one came straight back ashore. The bird was examined and was confirmed to be waterproof.  A further seven returned after approximately one hour, two came ashore at Hottentot Beach 24 hours later and one returned to the release pen unaided yesterday afternoon (a good 36 hours after release).  All these birds are in good health and have shown no signs of distress or weakness. There are a further 110 birds in the east section ready for release, and following on from the relative success of Saturday's trial (there were no known fatalities), the rehabilitation team are now working on a plan to release this entire group of birds.  In the meantime, all birds continue to feed by hand and swim in the pools daily.


ICU Latest

The ICU shed currently contains 11 weak and underweight birds.  In order to clean up the shed, the ICU will be moved to the wash bay which has a snug warm pen for the weak penguins.

[Report from Marina Burns, Tristan da Cunha, 23rd May 2011]

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As at 9 May, there are around 400 penguins remaining in the rehabilitation centre on Tristan - there have been no further releases since 3 April.  All remaining birds have gained weight well, but their feathers appear in poor condition after having been oiled and then washed.  Release of these birds cannot occur until they are in excellent condition, as sending them into a cold south Atlantic without their waterproofing intact would be disastrous.  Around 25 Tristanians are still working full time with the penguins, and the entire community remains dedicated to seeing the remaining birds head out to sea as soon as possible.

Sadly, the overall rate of rehabilitation of the rescued penguins has been extremely low, with around an 88% mortality rate amongst those birds that were moved to Tristan.  This is a much higher mortality than in other oiling incidents, and we hope that lessons can be learned that will improve this figure in any future incidents.  The extreme remoteness of the Tristan islands and the necessary delay (at least six days' sail from Cape Town) in getting vital supplies and staff to the islands probably contributed to the low survival, as birds would have been consuming toxic oil from their feathers for more than a week before rescue was undertaken.

All remaining wild penguins have now departed from the islands, and headed off to their winter feeding grounds.  We will not know the true impact of this calamity on the population until the birds return to breed on the islands in August and September this year.  The wreck of the MS Oliva remains in the water near Nightingale, and some oil is still leaking from the vessel - it is likely that winter storms will break the wreck up, and will disperse this oil, but we will need to continue to monitor the situation for possible impact on returning birds.

The ongoing impact on Tristan's lobster fishery is also unknown but being investigated.  RSPB's Brad Robson will travel to Tristan in September to assist the Conservation Department with their annual rockhopper census - Brad knows the islands well, having spent a year living there with his family in 2008/09.  We hope that some of the measures taken by the Tristan team, such as corralling penguins on land to prevent their exposure to oil, will have saved the lives of numerous birds.

To-date, the insurers of the Oliva have paid for all the rehabilitation and clean-up efforts, and we hope they will continue to act responsibly in the coming months and years.

There will, however, undoubtedly be some work that cannot be funded through insurance. One area where funds raised through the appeal can contribute will be ensuring that the people of Tristan da Cunha have sufficient resources on-hand locally to deal with any future oiling incident rapidly and without awaiting supplies from Cape Town. The community now has significant expertise in penguin rehabilitation, and we hope this can be shared with other South Atlantic islands to enable them to also mount rapid responses if an incident like this one occurs in the future.

Report taken from www.birdlife.org with thanks.

News in this month from Gough Island in the South African Weather Station's monthly newsletter The Bunting for April 2011 is that despite directed searches at several breeding sites (including The Glen), no oiled penguins have been seen.

Click here to access a recent Bird Conservation International publication on the 2009 population of Northern Rockhopper Penguins in the Tristan Group. 

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 No evidence of rats ashore on Nightingale Island

There is still a team of three on Nightingale  Island monitoring bait stations for rats, but thankfully no evidence of rodent infestation has been found.  A team change over has been postponed due to poor weather.  The weather has also delayed a planned inspection of Middle Island to monitor the progress of the weather breaking up and washing away the oil that remains and is seeping from the rocks.

It has been impossible to make a landing to carry out a close inspection of the beach at Blenden Hall on Inaccessible Island.

There has still been no survey of the wreck of the Oliva and therefore confirmation that there is no longer any cargo and lubricants on or around the ship.  For example there may be paints and other oils/lubricants on board have yet to be released and dispersed.

Meanwhile cleaning of the remaining 446 oiled penguins is continuing on the main island of Tristan.

Information from Tristan Administrator Sean Burns on 27 & 29 April, taken from http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsolivahome.php with thanks.

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Earlier this afternoon construction of a ‘release pool' was finally completed after three days' intensive work. All washed penguins will be brought here to be swum and fed in the days up until they are released back to sea. The release pool is made up of two adjoining 6 x 6 metre pools that have been constructed above the storm-water line on the east beach below the Settlement of Edinburgh. The first pool is fed with seawater pumped up from the shore along a 75-mm diameter hose. This overflows into a second pool from which the water is very slowly draining, maintaining a constant circulation of freshened water. This will ensure that any surface residues, for example fish oil, are regularly removed.

It has been a logistical challenge getting this facility up and running. SANCCOBs Logistical Manager Mariëtte Hopley reported it was originally planned to be located close to the rehab shed but due to the lack of level ground, had to be relocated. The heavy steel frames for the perimeter pen fences and pool sides were pre-welded in South Africa. On site these have been welded to scaffolding poles for extra rigidity, and metal building-floor mesh has been used to support netting along the sides. One huge piece of heavy gauge PVC plastic was laid over the steel frame to line both pools and with access ramps in place and shade netting around the perimeter of each pen for a wind break, the release pool was ready to receive penguins.

By midday, the first 120 of the 400 plus rockhoppers now at the release pool were brought down from the rehab centre by tractor and trailer. It was a humid, hot day on Tristan and the penguins took to the water with visible relief at being able to cool down and swim in the spacious pools. The strongest penguins were darting and diving underwater and washed vigorously for a good ten minutes before clambering out on the pool ramps. Rehab manager Dereck Rogers will be taking overall charge of the rehab operation after the ‘hand-over' from SANCCOB, and will be overseeing the daily feeding, swimming and testing of the penguins' plumage for waterproofing prior to their release.

Each of the two pools has its own pen area with pebble floor where the clean washed penguins can dry off and preen in between swimming and feeding. SANCCOB's Mariëtte Hopley reported the floor had been constructed as a  ‘natural French drain', so graded sizes of large pebbles, smaller pebbles and gravel were used to a depth of 30cm to allow the guano produced to be washed and filtered through this system when the floor is hosed down each morning.

With the departure of the SANCCOB team scheduled for just over five days time on the Ivan Papanin and more than 1300 penguins still remaining at the rehab centre, SANCCOB have submitted a Plan of Action to the Tristan Administration for the management of the rehab operation until it is completed. To date 3718 penguins have been admitted to the rehab centre, 2378 have died at the centre and 24 penguins have been released. SANCCOB are preparing to release two batches of penguins (up to around 200 in total), back to sea before they depart on 23 April.    

Katrine Herian, RSPB Project Officer on Tristan da Cunha

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Yesterday (12th) saw the arrival of the Russian research/Antarctic supply vessel Ivan Papanin.  This is the fourth vessel chartered by the owners of the Oliva and their insurers since the wreck and oiling incident, following after the Edinburgh, Smit Amandla and the Svitzer Singapore. The Edinburgh and the Smit Amandla were chartered on the day of the incident by the owner's appointed salvors.

The Ivan Papanin is carrying the balance of the SANCCOB penguin-cleaning supplies and oil-abatement equipment that was not able to be collected prior to the departure of the third vessel, the Svitzer Singapore on 29 March.  She also carries a Bell-212 helicopter, which will greatly improve the deployment of the oil-abatement teams and equipment into the oiled gulleys and bays on Middle Island, the focus of the clean-up efforts.

There is presently a 28-person team of international responders on the island, including SANCCOB/veterinarians/ITOPF/oil pollution and salvage response experts, working alongside an 80-strong island volunteer force.

To date, 3718 oiled penguins have been recovered and transferred to Tristan for rehabilitation. The last 56 of these arriving from Nightingale on 10th March.

Fortunately the penguins have completed their moulting period, and the vast majority of the penguins has left the breeding colonies and gone to sea following feeding grounds during the pelagic period of their yearly cycle. They are not due back at Tristan until they return in August for the start of the next breeding season.

With the onset of the southern winter, the adverse weather has brought with it gale force winds and heavy seas.  While hampering the clean-up response, these have broken up the majority of the released oil, although there are still clear signs of pollution around Nightingale.

The remote location of Tristan, along with the fact that no air-field exists closer than Cape Town (some 2200 km away), makes mobilisation of response equipment and supplies more challenging.

The Oliva was on a voyage from Brazil to China carrying 65 000 tonnes of soya beans as cargo, and grounded on Nightingale Island in the early morning of 16 March. The 22-strong crew were rescued from the casualty before she subsequently broke in two on the night of 18 March, releasing a large quantity of bunker oil.

 For further information contact Katrine Herian, RSPB Project Officer on Tristan da Cunha        This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

 

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Tristan oiling disaster:  first Rockhopper Penguins washed at rehabilitation centre

Late last night the first five Northern Rockhopper Penguins to be washed at the newly erected wash-bay facility were drying off under infrared lights.  This was a rewarding moment for rehabilitation manager Dereck Rogers who has been very closely involved with the care of the penguins from the moment the first oiled penguins were brought back to Tristan two and a half weeks ago. He was elated at being able to hold a cleanly washed penguin.
 
The past few days have seen the whole island working together to ensure the SANCCOB team have everything they need to erect the wash-bay facility, post-wash pens and pools.  The island plumbers, electricians, carpenters have all been on standby to assist with the operation, as well as plant operators for moving equipment and materials.  SANCCOB has installed three large hot water geysers in the wash-bay to heat the water for washing, as well as hundreds of metres of piping and cable to link in to the island's water and electrical supplies.
 
This morning the washing of oiled penguins got well under way as the first ‘washing-team' comprised of islanders received training from SANCCOB's CEO Venessa Strauss.  The washing-team work in pairs and island Administrator Sean Burns watched with interest as the first pair was taken through the thirty-minute process.  This entails spraying a fine mist of de-greaser (breaks down the oil/s as a pre-wash application), over the feathers of the penguin while carefully protecting the bird's eyes.  The penguins are then washed in a warm bath of biodegradable soap and anti-sceptic solution, gently working the feathers from the base of the penguin up. After a second wash with the soap and a gentle clean around the eyes with a toothbrush, penguins are taken to a rinsing bay.

Here SANCCOB's Jennie Bancroft showed islanders how to rinse the penguins' feathers making sure that none of the rinsing water is ingested by the birds.  A high-pressure shower head is used in order to fluff up the feathers.  After a hydration treatment of fluid with electrolytes and glucose, the washed penguins are then tagged and put in a recovery pen under infrared lamps for warmth while they dry off.  They are later moved to small clean pens which will each have access to a swimming pool where there are encouraged to swim.  Sixty-four penguins were washed today but SANCCOB's veterinary surgeon Tertius Gous, said they were aiming to wash up to a hundred a day once the washing-team is in full swing.

Meanwhile at the holding pens for oiled penguins the feeding teams were hard at work trying to satisfy the hunger of the many penguins waiting to be washed.  South African Pilchards are being fed to the penguins at the village swimming pool and in the outside pens to build up their strength before undergoing the washing process.  Some of the more lightly oiled penguins at the swimming pool are being ‘swum' every day after which their waterproofing is tested.  As soon as these penguins satisfy the release criteria of effective waterproofing and sufficient weight, further penguins will be released.

To date 3662 penguins have been admitted to the centre, 1577 have died, 69 have been washed and a further 24 released back to sea.

News from Katrine Herian, RSPB Project Officer on Tristan da Cunha, 9 April 2011

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 First penguins released from the rehabilitation centre

On Sunday 3 April the first penguins from the rehabilitation centre were released back to the sea.

At 16h45 watched closely by Tristan Islanders and the Administrator and his wife, the first 24 Northern Rockhopper Penguins were released at Saltpot Beach below the Settlement on the main island of Tristan. Conservation Officer Trevor Glass reported ‘the penguins were in perfect order, all their plumage had been checked and found dry'. It was an emotional moment and Trevor said he was more than happy to see the first batch go back to sea.

 

The penguins selected for release were selected from the strongest ones with no visible oil on their outer plumage. These penguins have been swimming in the release pool for several days. Of those tested to see if they were ready for release, only 24 had perfectly waterproof plumage. After arrival on Tristan penguins are stabilised and kept indoors in the rehabilitation shed, after which the strongest ones are moved to the outside pen. From here the cleanest and strongest ones are moved to the release pool where they are fed every day with fish, and encouraged to swim in the pool and to preen themselves.
The pool is filled with fresh, unchlorinated water on a daily basis. Environmental Advisor Estelle van der Merwe reported that the not so heavily oiled penguins admitted to the centre were doing an exceptional job of swimming and preening themselves clean.

So far, 3662 oiled penguins have been admitted to the rehabilitation centre. A total of 373 has died since the first batch of penguins were admitted on 23 March. About 25% of the penguins at the centre are currently in the release pool. There are still many oiled penguins which require urgent cleaning and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the SANCCOB team and the specialised equipment and materials needed for washing. These are due to arrive at Tristan later today on the tug Singapore but due to rough seas it is unlikely that they will be able to get ashore immediately.

News from Katrine Herian, RSPB Project Officer, Tristan da Cunha, Monday 4 April 2011
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NOTE: for futher updates of the Tristan oiling disaster over the next few days please visit
http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsolivahome.php.

News from the Island Administrator, Sean Burns, issued Sunday 3 April

"I went over to Middle or Alex and Inaccessible Islands yesterday.

Alex is by far the worst I have seen in terms of pollution although there are vast areas of all three islands that we have still not visited. With the way the wreck is lying and taking into account the way the wind has been moving since the ship ran aground it is not surprising that this area is badly hit.  The ‘landing', situated opposite the Western Landing on Nightingale, is coated in thick oil.  Simon Glass and theTristan.  The Singapore arrives tomorrow morning and because the weather will prevent her offloading, she will make a quick assessment of Nightingale before coming to Tristan to begin  offloading the drugs and cleaning equipment we so desperately need.  The conservation team now have 50/60 people helping out with the rehabilitation operation and a shift system has been put in place for when the cleaning starts.

The Ivan Papanin, equipped with materials to clean up the oil, will be leaving Cape Town on Tuesday 5th or Wednesday 6th. They do not wish to sail before the ITOPF team  aboard the Singapore gets a chance to assess the situation for themselves. The Ivan Papanin will have a helicopter on board to help move people and equipment around to assist with the cleanup operation.

I saw oil in the sea around both islands with the heaviest concentration on Nightingale around Petrel Bay.  Blenden Hall on Inaccessible still has a slick of diesel and some crude.  We also saw crude on some of the kelp on both islands.

 team removed the last of  the penguins today and apart from a few stragglers, the colony above this area is now more or less empty.  The  ther colonies on the island are clean and most of the birds have now left.  Whether or not they survived we do not know.  That assessment cannot be made until the penguins return in August.

 

 

With the penguins leaving the islands there is no longer a need to have large teams collecting and holding the birds before transportation to Tristan.  During the week we will scale down both operations and concentrate on cleaning those birds we have here on The all important fishery remains closed.  The Edinburgh is currently taking samples, which will need testing in either Cape Town or the UK.  There is little possibility that the results  will be known before the end of the season (end April) so it is likely both islands will remain
closed until next season.  A decision on re-opening the fishery cannot be taken until a rigorous programme of sampling and testing has taken place.

So another busy week for all but the situation is changing as we move from a  rescue/collection situation to a cleaning operation.  We look forward to releasing the first penguins either today or tomorrow."

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Meanwhile Katrine Herian reports that 'Tristan', the single oiled Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross in the rehabilitation centre on Tristan is "alive and well" and will be cleaned as soon as the cleaning equipment and  infra-red lamps being brought on the Singapore are operational.  Tristan is currently being given electrolytes and iron tablets, and fed fish-eater's tablets and locally-caught fish.

Nightingale Island emergency appeal

Thousands of Endangered Northern Rockhopper Penguins Eudyptes moseleyi have been covered in oil after a cargo ship crashed into Nightingale Island, part of the United Kingdom's Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha, home to a community of only 263 people.

The Tristan Islanders are doing a sterling job helping the penguins.  But they face a race against the clock to save the birds. And even before the disaster, the Northern Rockhopper was one of the most threatened penguin species.

Please consider giving to the Nightingale Island Disaster Fighting Fund, which is being administered by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB),  the United Kingdom partner of BirdLife International.

Your donation will be used to help the penguins and other wildlife affected by the oil. Your support will also be used to fund follow-up monitoring and to assess the full impact of this disaster.

Click here to find out how to donate.

News from James Glass, Director, Fisheries Department, Tristan da Cunha Government

With an increasing number of oiled Northern Rockhopper Penguins being rehabilitated on Tristan needing to be fed daily and as yet no imported fish, Tristan Islanders have to go and catch 'whitefish', mostly Giant Yellowtail Seriola lalandi and Five-finger Acantholatris monodactylus. The last few days have seen strong winds and hailstorms (known locally as' hailswails') with a confused sea, but this has not deterred the keen fishers from going out.

On Tuesday 29 March Cliff Swain caught a tuna Thunnus sp. when aboard the barge with fellow islanders Andrew Green, Grant Green, Mark Swain and Duncan Lavarello, and they also landed 16 Yellowtail.  In another barge were Larry Swain, Gavin Green, Gary Repetto and Shaun Green who caught 10 Yellowtail and 110 Five-fingers, not bad for a few hours fishing, especially given how bad the weather was.

Each penguin needs approximately 200 g of fish (raw meat mass) a day.  The crews from the boats catch and fillet the fish in the harbour and then deliver the fillets to the Fisheries and Conservation Departments' laboratory, where they are cut into chocolate-size squares. From here they are taken by another team and up to eight cubes of fresh fish are fed to each penguin. With over 3000 penguins to feed this means 600 kg of fish are needed daily - an extreme amount to be caught from hand lines in open boats when some days are inevitably lost as the swell closes Calshot Harbour.

The tug Singapore which departed Cape Town on Wednesday 30 March is carrying 16 tonnes of South African Pilchards to feed the penguins which will help supplement that caught locally.

Summarized from http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsolivafishing.php.

Other news from Tristan is that the crew of the wrecked Oliva were expected have left the island yesterday  on  the Samatan, a sister bulk carrier en route from Cape Town to Brazil.  The Singapore is due to arrive at  the island later today or tomorrow with its five-person penguin rehabilitation team from the SANCCOB Foundation aboard (as well as the urgently-needed frozen pilchards).  The departure of the Oliva's crew will free up accommodation in the village for these new arrivals.

SITREP Thursday 31 March 18h00 Tristan Time from RSPB Officer Katrine Herian

We are pleased to report that following discussions between the Tristan da Cunha Government and the owners/insurers of the wrecked Oliva a helicopter will be coming to Tristan on the MS Ivan Papanin, which is due to leave Cape Town next week.  The helicopter will greatly facilitate the penguin rescue teams getting to the remoter colonies and help move birds, people and equipment around and be available in case there is a need to evacuate anyone working on the outer islands back to Tristan in a hurry.

Tristan

We now have approximately 2400 oiled penguins in the rehabilitation centre divided between the shed, ICU, outside pens and the swimming pool.  More of the cleaner penguins (less than 20% oiled) were transferred to the pool today, making 544 penguins there in total.  Justin Green, one of those feeding the penguins at the pool, reported that there are now 30 penguins that are taking fish strips by hand.  Each penguin is given up to 15 strips and some of these penguins then peck at the feeders' boots for more. Birds in the 'thin' penguin pen are being fed twice a day.  This means that we currently need over 450 kg of fish (raw flesh) each day to feed all the penguins currently in captivity.

A further 539 penguins are expected from Nightingale Island this evening.

Nightingale Island

Environmental Advisor Estelle van der Merwe, who went over to Nightingale Island today, reports that most of the captive penguins were in good condition as they have been stabilized by the rescue team based on Nightingale.

At the West Landing, the team counted six dead penguins in the water which were moderately oiled.  Approximately 150-200 oiled penguins were seen at the West Landing on the shore rocks.

Inaccessible Island

Due to the continued bad weather the Edinburgh and the RIBs were once more unable to get to Inaccessible today.  Lourens Malan reported that the team had fed around 500 penguins of those that they were holding, and that they were catching more fish.  For the first time since they arrived, the team walked the beaches west from Blenden Hall round to Dirleton Point.  They counted 300 oiled penguins along this stretch of shoreline.

SITREP Wednesday 30 March 17h30, Tristan Time

Today's SITREP has been written by Marina Burns, wife of the Tristan Administrator who is helping with the penguin rehabilitation - as are many of the  island's small population.  It is clear everyone is working extremely hard.

Tristan

The weather has been much kinder to us on the island today, which has helped us greatly with our rehabilitation work.  We are delighted to report that all 1695 penguins fed well today with some now hand feeding from team members.  We now have three fully operational teams of workers with a fourth group of trainees ready to join the teams tomorrow.  The three teams worked hard to ensure that all penguins were fed by 14h30 and interior pens cleaned and ready for the arrival of the next batch of 700 penguins due to arrive on the Edinburgh from Nightingale Island later this afternoon.

Along with the 700 oiled and clean penguins from Nightingale will be the majority of the Nightingale team.  Team members Matthew and Wayne will remain on Nightingale to continue monitoring the situation there and taking care of the remaining oiled penguins, which will be transported to Tristan as soon as weather permits.

With the exception of 85 particularly oiled penguins, all other penguins have now been moved either to the swimming pool or to an exterior pen.  The birds in the pool are preening themselves and looking cleaner and more waterproof every day.

A second exterior pen has now been erected with water dishes, but no pool as yet.  This will be for the housing of strong but thin birds, which will be fed twice a day to strengthen them before release.  The pen will contain upturned boats which will provide necessary shelter for the penguins.  The separate sick bay is now up and running with 90 thin and weak birds being cared for intensively. We can report that only eight deaths were registered today.

Oil has been reported on the west side of the main island of Tristan from Anchorstock Point to Hacklehill Road.  A team was mobilized on foot this morning to walk to the Caves and Stony Beach but as yet, we have had no report.  In addition, two oiled penguins were found on Runaway Beach this morning.

The Smit Amandla left for Cape Town this morning at 10h00 leaving behind the Spill Auditor Nick Sloane and a team of six divers.  The tug Singapore left Cape Town at 18h00 yesterday evening (Tuesday 29th), but due to adverse weather conditions, will probably not arrive until Sunday afternoon.   Aboard the Singapore is the SANCCOB team together with Mark Whittington from ITOPF.  The tug is carrying essential equipment and materials for the washing and rehabilitation of the penguins.

Nightingale Island

It has been reported today that the west landing is still covered in oil.

Middle Island

Middle Island is also still badly affected.  It is estimated that approximately 8000 penguins are still on the island.  It is hoped that as soon as the penguins have been rescued from Inaccessible, the team can assist further there.

Inaccessible Island

The weather is looking good tomorrow to send a sizable team over to Inaccessible to assist in the rescue of as many oiled and unoiled penguins as possible.  The team will include Environmental Advisor Estelle van der Merwe, Spill Auditor Nick Sloane, Conservation Officer Trevor Glass, members of the Nightingale team and the divers from the Smit Amandla.

SITREP 29 March 20h00 (Tristan time) from Katrine Herian on Tristan

Another bitingly cold day on Tristan with strong winds and five-metre swells. Bad weather prevented landing at either Nightingale or Inaccessible Islands.  The fishing vessel Edinburgh took 5.5 hours to make the 25-mile journey between Nightingale and Tristan, a trip which normally takes around 2.5 hours.

Tristan

At 09h30 the Edinburgh reported two oil slicks 3-4 miles off the south of Tristan.
At 12h45 the first oil-covered penguin was reported to have been found on the main island of Tristan. Fisherman Desmond Green found the penguin on the beach near Red Sands to the south-west of the Settlement Plain. Environmental Advisor Estelle van der Merwe confirmed that the penguin had been very recently oiled and that oil-covered feather samples have been taken.

Conservation Officer Trevor Glass has arranged for a team of three to walk out from the Settlement early tomorrow morning to check the beaches down to the Caves and Stony Beach in the south of the island.

In the rehabilitation shed the team are doing really well and fed every single penguin, 1593 birds in total.  More of the cleaner penguins were moved out to the swimming pool, making 282 now in the pool. We have approximately 500 penguins left in the shed which gives us room for up to 600 possible new arrivals, as the rest were all strong enough to go
outside. It also provides an opportunity to put down a fresh layer of volcanic sand. Nightingale is still holding approximately 600 penguins which we may be able to get to and collect before we get a break in the weather to land at Inaccessible.

An intensive care unit or ‘sick bay' was set up today in a portable container with an adjacent holding area. There are 98 penguins in the ICU and these thin and weak penguins are being given electrolytes and tube fed with Hills a/d, a high nutrition solution. Penguins here are receiving special attention mainly because of being underweight. There were 22 penguins that died in the rehabilitation centre yesterday plus the Broad-billed Prion from Middle Island which was heavily oiled, and 21 dead penguins today.

The Sandy Point Express was out again today with a team of fishers catching fish for the penguins. Pensioners Joyce Hagan and Diana Green were cutting up fish all day into little squares for feeding the penguins.

Nightingale

At 07h00 this morning Simon Glass reported a heavy swell running at the landing rock. The team spent the day feeding the very weak penguins with 60 ml each of Hill a/d.  Due to bad weather they couldn't fish today to feed the stronger penguins but will try again tomorrow.

Inaccessible

The team after seeking advice, released 150 oiled birds they were holding in the corrall at Warren's Cliff in order to focus their resources on the unoiled penguins. The oiled penguins had been held for more than five days as neither the Edinburgh nor local RIBs [rigid inflatable boats] have been able to get over there due to bad weather and swells at the landing beach and heavy seas had dispersed some of the oil at the landing beach below the colony. They are still holding 1400 unoiled penguins at Warren's Cliff.

Visit http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsolivatristan.php to see more pictures.

**29 March 21h00 SAST:

The Singapore sailed from Cape Town about three hours ago for Tristan da Cunha, delayed for 24 hours by foggy conditions overnight in Table Bay.  Aboard the tug is a six-person team led by Venessa Strauss, CEO of the penguin-cleaning SANCCOB Foundation, which organization has been contracted by the insurers of the wrecked Oliva, along with supplies and equipment for treating large numbers of oiled penguins.  Their arrival on Tristan, expected by end of the week, should give a much-needed boost to the penguin rehabilitation work.

Venessa SMSed from the ship that she and her team were excited to be able to help Tristan with its oiling disaster, and they hoped for good weather and a fast run.

Today's Cape Argus, a Cape Town daily newspaper,  reports that the Oliva insurers have also chartered a Russian icebreaker, the Ivan Papanin, which is due to sail to Tristan this coming weekend, but stated it was not yet clear how many more South Africans would join the clean-up effort as accommodation facilities on Tristan were limited.

Latest news from the rehabilitation centre is posted verbatim from Katrine Herian's SITREP of 20h00, 28 Monday:

 

**28 March 17h30 SAST:

Information in these reports comes from daily SITREPS sent from Tristan da Cunha by Katrine Herian.  Katrine is an RSPB Project Officer based in the Tristan Conservation Department on a two-year OTEP-funded (Overseas Territories Environment Programme) project entitled ‘Integrated Biodiversity Management Planning on Tristan da Cunha'.  Rather ironically, a project aim is to produce a management plan for Nightingale Island, scene of the oiling disaster when the MS Oliva run aground nearly two weeks ago on the early morning of 16 March.

The Oliva crew has helped with building the outside penguin pen, cleaning out containers for use as a sick bay and lifting boxes of oiled penguins on and off the tractor when the birds arrive at Calshot Harbour on Tristan. They have not been involved in handling or feeding the penguins.  It is understood a ship will be arriving for them at the end of the week.

**28 March 08h30 SAST:

Yesterday morning Conservation Officer Trevor Glass reported from the fishing vessel  Edinburgh that the oil slick in Petrel Bay on Nightingale Island was still present.  However, no more oil is escaping from the fore or aft sections of the wrecked Oliva. The aft section is now completely submerged.

A plan is being made to take up to a 1000 unoiled post-moult penguins, which have been penned so they cannot enter the sea and become oiled,  from Inaccessible Island by ship several hours' sailing away and release them at sea.  Since Northern Rockhopper Penguins do not return to their breeding islands post-moult until after winter they should then be able to avoid any oil drifting away from the islands.  A decision in which direction to take the birds and how far away will be made in relation to the direction oil slicks from the wrecked Oliva have been moving.  The fisheries patrol boat Wave Dancer is on standby to take two extra islanders over to join the Inaccessible team today.  Environmental Advisor Estelle van der Merwe whio arrived on the salvage tug Smit Amandla a week ago will accompany them to advise on the operation to take the unoiled penguins out to sea on the Edinburgh.

A further 253 oiled penguins arrived from Nightingale at the Tristan rehabilitation centre yesterday evening via the Edinburgh's power boats, although heavy swells are continuing to hamper the collection and transfer operations.  The rehabilitation team, led by Tristan Islander Dereck Rogers, fed more than 750 penguins yesterday.  Fishing for penguin food has been taking place from the salvage tug and from the island barge Sandy Point Express.  Trevor Glass returned with the penguins and will now be based on Tristan as the rehabilitation centre manager.

Ten more helpers joined the core team yesterday evening for training in handling and 'tubing' penguins. When penguins first arrive on Tristan they are dehydrated so are given an electrolyte solution via a tube and syringe.

The first 80 of the lightly oiled (less than 20%) penguins have been released into the island swimming pool.  The pool had been partially drained and an access ramp built by Head of Plumbing Stanley Green and his team. The penguins took to the water immediately and were seen diving, splashing and later preening.

Marina Burns, the Administrator's wife, has joined the rehabilitation support team and is working closely with Tristan Conservation Department Clerk Kirsty Green to organise personnel for the penguin rehabilitation operation. This is a complex task given that most people on Tristan have several different jobs - as well as fitting in looking after their livestock and potato patches. 

Estelle van der Merwe from South Africa helps feed "Tristan" the oiled Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross

**27 March 07h30 SAST: Yesterday's SITREP from RSPB Officer Katrine Herian on Tristan da Cunha brings the important news that the tug Singapore is scheduled to depart Cape Town tomorrow (28th) evening with a five-person penguin-cleaning team aboard from the SANCCOB Foundation.  The party is expected to include SANCCOB'S Chief Executive Officer, its rehabilitation station manager and a wildlife vet experienced in treating captive penguins.

The Singapore should take five days to get to Tristan and is due to arrive over the weekend of 2/3 April.  It will be carrying essential materials for the cleaning operation aboard, including frozen fish by the tonne, medicines, radiant heaters and portable swimming pools and pens, as well as biosecurity equipment for the outer islands such as rodent traps and poison bait.  All equipment is to be new, to avoid the risks of transporting avian diseases to the islands.

The SANCCOB Foundation (The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) has experience going back over more than four decades in cleaning oiled African Penguins Spheniscus demersus, at times with numbers into the low tens of thousands.

Other news is that treatment of oiled penguins continues on Tristan with 1400 penguins being fed with six to eight filleted pieces of locally-caught fish.  However, heavy seas are currently hampering the further collection and transport of birds from Nightingale, Middle and Inaccessible Islands.  Meanwhile the crew of the wrecked Oliva are being recruited to help prepare facilities for yet more oiled penguins on Tristan.

Among the thousand plus penguins a single Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross is under care.  This Nightingale fledgling has been named "Tristan" and is responding well to treatment.  A Broad-billed Prion Pachyptila vittata has been found oiled on Nightingale, adding to the list of seabird species known to be affected to date.  Adding to the scale of the disaster the first report of dead fur seals has been made.

There remains a pressing need to reach some of the shoreline on the outer islands where penguins breed in large numbers, such as Salt Beach on Inaccessible, made difficult (and dangerous) by the usually rough landing conditions.  Such beaches are only accessible to small inflatable boats and will require all the well-known boating skills of the Tristan Islanders to land upon.

 

**26 March 12h30 SAST:

Go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ujb-_qIeA&feature=related to view a video clip of the oiling disaster at Tristan da Cunha.

Another 755 penguins were brought across from Nightingale Island aboard the MV Edinburgh yesterday evening (25th March), giving a total of 1228 penguins now being rehabilitated ashore on Tristan.

The Tristan Conservation Department plans to go ashore on Middle (Alex) Island adjacent to Nightingale today to collect and transfer as many oiled penguins as possible to the Edinburgh for onward transit to Tristan. Middle Island is a tricky island to land on but its breeding population of 83 000 pairs (in 2006) means it supports 35% of the total penguin population of the Tristan and Gough Islands.  It also had a breeding population of 40 pairs of Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses in December 2009.

Click here to access a recently published scientific paper on the birds of Middle Island.

**25 March 14h00 SAST:

Along with the many oiled Northern Rockhopper Penguins being collected for treatment on Tristan from Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands, an Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross ("Molly") has been found oiled and is being treated aboard ship: "it "has been successfully washed and is being kept warm near the vessel's funnel".  The young bird was caught by Trevor Glass, Head of the Tristan Conservation Department after it had fledged from the island on its first flight.  This is only the second report received so far of an albatross affected from the oil spilled by the wrecked Oliva.

The first batch of oiled penguins brought to Tristan yesterday are being stabilized with fluid, vitamins and charcoal to absorb ingested oil.  Local fish species are being caught to feed them fresh fillets.  The island's swimming pool is being pressed into service to allow lightly-oiled birds to bathe, which encourages them to preen their feathers and thus help restore  waterproofing prior to release.  Cleaning of oiled birds has yet to commence.

529 more oiled penguins are due to be brought to Tristan aboard the Edinburgh today from Middle (Alex) and Nightingale Islands. The team on Inaccessible Island team has reported that it has 450 oiled penguins penned from the two colonies at Blenden Hall and Warren's Cliff awaiting transport to Tristan.

News from http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsolivatristan.php where pictures of the penguins being treated on Tristan may be viewed.  See also http://www.birdlife.org/community/2011/03/tristan-islanders-rally-to-save-oiled-penguins/.

**24 March 15h30 SAST:

473 oiled penguins have been transferred on the fishing vessel Edinburgh from Nightingale Island to the main island of Tristan da Cunha this morning so their cleaning in the settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas can commence.  They have been placed in a cleared-out PWD shed in the village that will have power, light and fresh water to hand to aid in the cleaning process.

Unfortunately, the birds cannot be fed in captivity until a ship can travel from South Africa with a load of frozen fish, along with an experienced cleaning team and other essential supplies.  News of this "second vessel" and its sailing date is still awaited.

Oiled penguins being collected on Inaccessible Island await their turn to be transported to the main island of Tristan.

Oiled Subantarctic Fur Seal Arctocephalus tropicalis pups have now been reported on Nightingale Island (see http://digitalnomad.nationalgeographic.com/2011/03/23/nightingale-island-oil-spill for a posted report from a visiting tourist ship, the MV National Geographic Explorer, along with a set of pictures of oiled penguins and of the wreck).

Information posted today at http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsolivacleanup.php confirms that the two sections of the wrecked ship will be left in place to break up further and their salvage will not be attempted.  Although it seems there is now little oil escaping or present around the vessel on the sea surface, the ship's soya bean cargo has been escaping, leading to the description of "soya milk" by the Adminstrator of Tristan da Cunha.

**23 March 15h00 SAST:

Although Tristan's first oiling disaster has so far affected only Northern Rockhopper Penguins in any numbers, there is still concern that other seabird species may become oiled.  Previously a lightly-oiled Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchoswas seen on Nightingale Island.  Today fishers saw an oiled giant petrel Macronectes spp. that was apparently unable to fly, an ACAP-listed taxon,  close inshore near the main island's village.  Three days ago a heavily oiled Fregetta storm petrel was caught at sea off Inaccessible Island, but which later died.  A photograph of it will be posted once it can be identified to species by experts.

Other observations suggest that flying seabirds, such as Great Shearwaters Puffinus gravis, which raft off the outer islands at dusk, may be avoiding the oil slicks.  Response teams travelling by ship and rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) between the islands are keeping a careful look-out but have as yet not spotted any oiled albatrosses or shearwaters.

A cruise round to the southern coast of Tristan yesterday in his police RIB by Inspector Conrad Glass, author of the book Rockhopper Copper,  revealed no oil on the sea or oiled  penguins ashore through binoculars at the several, but small penguin colonies (total c. 7000 breeding pairs) that occur on the main island.

Above news from Katrine Herian, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

**23 March 06h30 SAST:

The oiled penguin rehabilitation team now waiting in Cape Town for  transport to the Tristan islands has been named in yesterday's daily newspaper Cape Times as being put together by the SANCCOB Foundation (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds).  SANCCOB is an internationally recognised leader in seabird rehabilitation with much experience of successfully cleaning oiled African Penguins Spheniscus demersusin sometimes very large numbers. SANCCOB has also occasionally attempted rehabiliting other seabird species, including ACAP-listed albatrosses and giant petrels.

The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) is providing technical advice to the oil spill response.  ITOPF is a not-for-profit organisation established on behalf of the world's shipowners to promote an effective response to marine spills of oil, chemicals and other hazardous substances.

Other news is that because of oil pollution around Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands the fishery for Tristan Rock Lobster or Crayfish Jasus tristanihas been closed until further notice.  Most of the 2010/11 quota had already been caught.  The rock lobster fishing vessel Edinburghhas  been instrumental in bringing the crew safely off the grounded Oliva and taking them to the main island of Tristan, where they still await a vessel to evacuate them to Cape Town.

 

 

 

 

**22 March 17h00 SAST:

A request from Tristan is being met in Cape Town by sourcing  100 kg of poison wax blocks and 30 bait stations to add to those already set out on Nightingale.  Rats getting ashore could easily cause the extinction of several species of landbirds (two endemic buntings and a thrush) on the rodent-free island and badly effect the smaller (and perhaps even the larger) seabirds.  Arguably this would ultimately be a larger disaster than that already caused by the huge numbers of penguins oiled.  These new supplies will be be sent on the first available ship - still under negotiation between the UK and South African Governments.

A further concern is the heightened risk of new species of alien plants arriving on the islands with all the movements by salvors and  penguin rescuers.  Tristan da Cunha practices strict biosecurity measures when moving to and from and between the uninhabited islands of Nightingale and Inaccessible, including scrubbing boots to get rid of any seeds that might be stuck in their treaded soles and carefully inspecting all packages and parcels before landings are made.  The establishment of alien plants can materially change island ecosystems with potential deleterious effects on their animal life as well.

**22 March 10h30 SAST:

An early morning report from Tristan states that fuel oil is once more visble on the sea surface around Nightingale and is still leaking from the Oliva's hull, thought perhaps still to contain 800 tonnes.  The salvage assessors will be inspecting the forward section of the wreck this morning.

Efforts are continuing in Cape Town to charter a second vessel to take out a penguin-cleaning team, with several options being actively explored.

**22 March 07h00 SAST:

The salvage tug Smit Amandla reached the wreck site of the Oliva on Nightingale Island yesterday afternoon.  The Environmental Assessor aboard, Estelle van der Merwe working with Ocean Satellite Imaging Systems (OSIS), estimates that 20 000 oiled penguins are present.  Good news is that no oil on the sea surface was seen around the wreck site, unlike over the past weekend, so perhaps the Oliva has stopped leaking.

Treatment of oiled penguins ashore on Nightingale is set to start today.  Meanwhile efforts to secure a second vessel to take out out an experienced and fully-equipped oiled penguin-cleaning team are still proceeding in Cape Town (click here).

**21 March 19h00 SAST:

Gough Island, part of the Tristan Group but some 400 km away from the other islands, is today reported as being free of oiled birds, including penguins.  Gough and Inaccessible Islands and their teritorial waters form a single World Heritage Site, and both are formally proclaimed nature reserves and Ramsar Sites of International Importance.

**21 March 16h30 SAST:

The salvage tug Smit Amandla is due to arrive at the Tristan islands this afternoon, when it will take aboard the Head of the Tristan Conservation Department, Trevor Glass and proceed to Nightingale and the wreck of the Oliva.  There remains a possibility the front part of the broken vessel could still be towed away, which has not yet sunk as has the detached rear section.

Meanwhile a conservation team was taken off Inaccessible Island yesterday evening from where they report large amounts of surrounding oil and numbers of oiled penguins coming ashore.  Inaccessible is 22 km away from Nightingale.  A four-person party is due to return in two days' time in an attempt to fence in unoiled moulting penguins (which will not require feeding) until the oil at sea has dispersed.   Similar efforts are to be attempted at Nightingale and Middle Islands if found to be feasible.

Rat stations are now in place on Nightingale along the shoreline opposite the wreck as a necessary precautionary measure, in case any rodents swim ashore, although the ship has been reported as rat-free by its Captain.  Nightingale has always been free of alien mammals.

New photographs of massed oiled penguins on Nightingale are at the Tristan da Cunha web site.  Read today's BirdLife International press release on the incident and view more photos at http://www.birdlife.org/community/2011/03/race-to-save-oiled-penguins-after-tanker-strikes-tristan-da-cunha/.

Reports of oiling of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels, or the lack thereof, are being sought.

**20 March 20h15 SAST:

The MS Oliva had broken in half by two days ago and the separated stern section with the bridge and superstructure has capsized and is partially sunk. This means any hope of salvage has gone.  See recent photographs of the wreck as well as of oil on the sea surface at the Tristan da Cunha web site.

**20 March 14h30 SAST:

Oiled penguins have now been reported from nearby Inaccessible Island, a nature reserve, a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and with Tristan's Gough Island, a World Heritage Site.  The island's surrounding territorial waters (out to 12 nautical miles) are included in these two international designations.  Hundreds of oiled penguins have now been seen on Nightingale.

Planning for the second vessel with an experienced oil-cleaning team aboard is proceeding apace in Cape Town by way of emergency meetings being held over the long weekend.  News of this activity will be posted soon.

**20 March 01h30 SAST:

The first report of an Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross "with oil spots on his chest and abdomen" being sighted on Nightingale Island has been received.  Pictures seen of penguins on the island's steep and rocky shoreline show heavy oiling. Planning for a response team to proceed to the island on the second vessel are proceeding in Cape Town over the weekend.

**19 March 19h15 SAST:

Oiled penguins have now been seen on Nightingale as they come out of the water onto the shore.  As yet no reports of oiled albatrosses or giant petrels have been received.

The Administrator of Tristan da Cunha, Sean Burns "reports an awful scene around Nightingale Island with oil from the stricken MS Olivaeight miles offshore and more or less around the whole island. The slick ranges from thin films of oil, small balls and larger clumps of tar with the smell of diesel everywhere".  The salvage tug Smit Amandla is due to arrive at the island on Monday the 21st.

"A second vessel is being chartered by the owners / their insurers to assist in the clean-up operation. The Environmental Adviser aboard the salvage tug may need to make a preliminary assessment before this second vessel sails to ensure correct equipment, materials and staff are on board for this complex operation in the isolated South Atlantic."  Taken from http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsoliva.php.

The Governor of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Andrew Gurr, speaking from St Helena, has said·that the Tristan Government is committed to ensuring that the ship's owners will meet the full cost of any clean-up, damage or subsequent losses arising from the situation.

** 18 March 12h30 SAST:

"MS Oliva broke her back in the force of a relentless swell and the wreck of the ship's superstructure is now breaking up. Flows of oil are all around Nightingale's coast. The onshore Tristan Conservation Team of Simon Glass, Wayne Swain and Matthew Green are busy assessing damage to Nightingale's seabirds. This late summer season is crucial as all adults are flying daily from their nests to catch fish, squid, etc. to feed their rapidly maturing chicks. The island has no land mammals and is regarded as one of the world's most important wildlife habitats. The World Heritage Sites of Inaccessible and Gough Island may also be at risk from oil pollution.· MV Edinburgh will this morning take on board an emergency assessment team which will travel to Nightingale to assess the situation for themselves. We expect a report and photographs later today. The team will be led by Administrator Sean Burns with Chief Islander Ian Lavarello and include Fisheries Officer James Glass, Search and Rescue Police Inspector Conrad Glass and Conservation Officer Trevor Glass."···Taken from http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsoliva.php.

**18 March· 11h30 SAST:

Latest news from Tristan da Cunha is that the Violahas now broken in two and is leaking oil around the island.· The ship was carrying 1500 tonnes of heavy fuel oil.·

**18 March· 09h00 SAST:··The whole crew has now been taken off the grounded ship.· The salvage tug Smit Amandlahas left Cape Town with an environmental advisor and equipment to treat oiled birds aboard.· One concern expressed has been that if salvage efforts require the use of powerful night lighting,·it will attract·nocturnally-visiting burrowing petrels which could result in mass fatalities.· The MS Olivais described as being down at the bow with a list to port and with water in her engine room.· She has lost one of·her lifeboats.· The report of "quite a lot of·oil now in Petrel Bay and around the vessel" is·of concern·since large numbers of·Endangered Northern Rockhopper Penguins Eudyptes moseleyi are currently present ashore on Nightingale and Middle.· The ACAP-listed albatrosses of Nightingale Island and its two islets are less likely to become oiled, but Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes giganteus that visit the island's inshore waters may be at some risk.

·********************

The Greek-owned bulk carrier MS Oliva run aground on 4-km² Nightingale Island,·part of the UK's Tristan da Cunha Islands in the South Atlantic and home to large populations of albatrosses and other seabirds, in the early morning of 16 March.

The heavily-laden 75 300-tonne ship, registered in 2009, was proceeding from Santos in Brazil to Singapore with a cargo of Soya beans.· A salvage tug is to leave Cape Town today and is expected to arrive at Nightingale on the 21st.

Meanwhile members of the Tristan Conservation Department are attempting to reach the site of the shipwreck to set rodent traps on the island as a precautionary measure but are currently being hampered by rough seas.· Although the ship's captain has stated it is free of rats, Nightingale is one of the few alien mammal-free islands in the Southern Ocean, and the arrival and establishment of rats would place its seabirds and land birds at severe risk.

Early this morning rough seas were also stalling the evacuation of the full complement of the ship's crew to a crayfish fishing vessel that is standing by.· Waves are now starting to break over the grounded ship and the first signs of spilled oil have also been noticed: bad news especially for the island's penguins.

Nightingale supports important populations of Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses Thalassarche chlororhynchos (c. 1000 pairs, endemic to the Tristan Group) and of Sooty Albatrosses Phoebetria fusca (c. 200 pairs).

Click here·to access the wildlife monitoring manual for Nightingale Island.

Follow this developing story and view a panel of dramatic photographs of the grounded Oliva at http://www.tristandc.com/newsmsoliva.php, the joint website of the Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association.

"Cold, wet and windy day on Tristan da Cunha, with hailstorms during the day. Bad weather prevented any penguins coming off Nightingale or trying to get to Inaccessible today.

Tristan

Conservation Officer Trevor Glass is back on island and has taken over as Centre Manager. The rehabilitation team have fed at least 1200 penguins today. Each penguin is currently getting 6-8 cubes of fresh fish, but this will need to be increased as the penguins get stronger. We will need up to 200 g of fish (raw meat weight) a day for each penguin. With 1614 penguins currently at the rehabilitation centre, this means we will need to catch over 300 kg a day just to keep the current number of penguins fed.  Fresh fish is preferable to frozen fish because the vitamins leach out when frozen. 57 penguins in total have died at the rehabilitation centre since penguins were first admitted on Wednesday 23rd.

The Sandy Point Express has been out again today trying to catch fish for the penguins, but with the strong winds and heavy swells the catch was limited.

Nightingale

At 11h30 this morning the Edinburgh reported heavy seas and swell running. All the hatches of the MV Oliva have now come open. The team on Nightingale have been extending the fence around the oiled penguins. Simon Glass reported they had about 500 oiled penguins ready to be transported the 25 miles by sea to Tristan.

Inaccessible

Lourens Malan reported that the team on Inaccessible had fed their first penguin today with fish caught on a line from the beach. They were requesting more handlines. The team spent much of the day repairing fences at the two rookeries where penguins were corralled at Blenden Hall and Warren's Cliff. Seals had broken through sections of the fences allowing some of the corralled penguins to escape.  Bad weather has prevented any boats from getting to Inaccessible to collect penguins. They still have 1400 penguins corralled at Warren's Cliff, 300 of which are oiled, the rest unoiled. The team are corralling unoiled penguins to prevent them going over the oiled shoreline just below where penguins from this colony enter the sea.

Wave Dancer and Edinburgh still on standby to get to Inaccessible at the first possible opportunity to collect penguins, take over extra supplies and further team members, as well as Environmental Advisor Estelle van der Merwe.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 March 2011, last updated 23 August 2011