Custom Search

Friday, December 9, 2011

We're FREE! P-p-pitter-patter of happy feet as penguins rescued from oil spill are released back into the sea

By Gavin Allen

Happy feet: These excited birds were among 49 Little Blue Penguins that were released back into the wild after months in captivity following an oil spill

Waddling as fast as their little legs can carry them, these excited penguins have good reason to be happy.

Their delighted flight towards the sealine on Mount Maunganui beach in Tauranga, New Zealand, follows almost two months in humane captivity.

When the hatches to their yellow and blue transport cases were opened by a mixture of wildlife workers and schoolchildren, some of the the 49 Little Blue Penguins peeked out carefully before emerging onto the sand.

Out of the box: The penguins were released onto the beach at Mount Maunganui in Tauranga by a mixture of schoolchildren and wildlife rescue experts

Helping hand: This Little Blue Penguin is encouraged by a wild life worker to head back to the sea after almost two months in captivity

With a mixture of confusion and excitement some ran in the wrong direction, others sought out their 'friends' and flapped around in circles before heading for the water, where they bobbed about in the surf.

They were the first group to be returned to the sea as part of a staged release programme over a period of weeks.

Wildlife officials nursed some 343 of the penguins back to health after they were effectively tarred and feathered when a cargo ship ran aground on a reef near Tauranga in early October, covering them in oil.

The 775ft-long vessel called the Rena became stranded on the rocks and its torn hull released some 400 tons of fuel into the ocean.

Ready, steady, go: Despite their obvious delight at being released back into the wild, some of the birds appeared momentarily confused as they emerged from their transport boxes

On the run: These penguins were among 343 that were saved following the oil spill by the Rena that claimed the lives of more than 2,000 sea birds

Studied: The penguins have all been microchipped so their movements can be monitored after their release into the wild

Oil spill: Cargo ship the Rena became responsible for the worst environmental disaster in New Zealand's history, sending some 400 tons of fuel into the ocean
It was New Zealand's worst sea pollution disaster and it killed more than 2,000 sea birds.

But these penguins were the lucky ones and, though they were a little weaker for their time being cleaned and pampered by the wildlife rescue staff, they were always destined to return to the ocean.

Wildlife Response Manager Kerri Morgan said that it is important wild penguins do not remain in captivity for too long because they can develop injuries and illnesses.

She said: 'It's been a little bit nerve-wracking and a long process to get here.'

The penguins were fitted with microchips so they can be monitored after their release.



Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Powered by Blogger