GSPCA Helps Oiled Seabirds

Stormy weather is bringing old oil to the surface and seabirds are landing on it.

The GSPCA says it’s been called a significant number of times to reports of oiled seabirds, either on the beach, or just offshore.

Weeks of rough weather have disturbed oil deposits on the sea bed. These can be from boats cleaning out their bilges, minor oil spills or major disasters like the Torrey Canyon. These deposits rise, diffuse and form mini slicks, which the unfortunate sea birds land on.

GSPCA manager Steve Byrne says the oil film sticks to their feathers, and as they preen and try to clean it off, they ingest it, and become ill:

“They then wash up weak and sick on the shores, but it is important not to rush to catch the bird as you can scare it back into the water. Instead call call us 24/7 on 01481 27261.”

“Precautions also need to be taken due to the risks of avian bird flu, with cases still being seen around the UK.”

In early 1967 the oil tanker Torrey Canyon struck rocks off west Cornwall and more than 150 million litres of crude oil were spilled. Some reached as far away as Spain. Guernsey beaches were badly affected. Steve Byrne says should another disaster happen, they’ve trained for it:

“In 2021 we joined in with the States of Guernsey Oil Spill Response training which was really interesting and one of the biggest challenges we could face if there was ever another disaster.”

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