More than a month has passed since the unfortunate accident of the cargo ship, Rena, which ran onto a reef off the coast of New Zealand, and started leaking oil in the Bay of Plenty, an important habitat for dolphins, whales, penguins and seals, 49 Little Blue Penguins oiled in the spill were released on 22 November in New Zealand, after rescue and rehabilitation by emergency response teams, including International Bird Rescue, organised through Massey University’s New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre.
Fortunately, the environmental damage was not as bad as was feared. Nevertheless, from the spill to the releasing of these wonderful little creatures, it was an international effort to clean up the marine environment that the oil had tainted. There were volunteers from all over the world, including the EU.
The penguins were nursed to health at a wildlife facility manned by specialists, and were fitted with microchips so they can be monitored after their release.
The team of experts and volunteers prepared the release by setting up three aviaries with a salt water system and gradually raised the salinity to that of seawater, and then sorted the penguins into “tribes” according to their location of capture, their state of waterproofing and their estimated time until molt.
The video of the release can be seen here.