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Seabirds rescued after dozens of guillemots wash up on Devon coast covered in ‘palm oil’

By WMNDavidWells  |  Posted: February 01, 2013

  • The RSPCA work to clean oil covered guillemots from Chesil beach after they were found covered in a white waxy substance

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A rescue operation has been launched after more than 100 seabirds were washed up along the Westcountry coast covered in a sticky ‘‘waxy, glue-like” substance said to be palm oil.

The guillemots, a kind of auk, were found washed up in the white substance along the coastline stretching from Chesil Cove and Portland in Dorset to Torquay in Devon and down to Cornwall.

More than 100 birds have been taken to the West Hatch Animal Centre in Taunton, while many were found dead.

Scientists were reported to have tested the substance and discovered it to be palm oil.

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View Oiled seabirds Feb 1, 2013 in a larger map

Most of the birds were found on the beaches of Lyme Bay, around Chesil Cove and Weymouth yesterday .

The Environment Agency and the RSPB earlier said they did not know where the oil had come from.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds took many guillemots covered in the substance to West Hatch but attempts to clean them have been hampered by not knowing what the substance is, Grahame Madge, of the RSPB, said.

“At the moment, the best guess is there are around 100 birds ashore and there are concerns the birds are affected in as widespread a region as from Cornwall to Sussex so we could be dealing with quite a large incident as all these birds could be proved to come from the same pollution incident,” he added.

“We are urging the government to identify the source of the pollution.”

Mr Madge said 25,0000 guillemots were using the stretch of coast.

The rescue operation is being run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA).

Tony Whitehead, from the RSPB, said: “We have had a few dead birds washed up over the past few weeks, but not this many.”

The RSPCA said many of the birds, which were ‘‘mainly being found near Portland, west Dorset”, had ‘‘very sore legs” but there was no number for how many had died.

Peter Venn, manager of RSPCA in West Hatch, Somerset, said: “We do not know where it has come from yet.

“It may be bi-product from manufacture, but at this stage we just do not know.

“We would urge anyone who finds any of these birds to contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.”

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  • Bleach  |  February 02 2013, 8:09AM

    "I'm not against all seabirds" What does that even mean. jeez ... moron.

  • SidneyNuff  |  February 01 2013, 10:40PM

    No, never been there. I'm not against all seabirds, just seagulls mainly. I do find it hard to cry crocodile tears every time a newspapet prints a story about some sad case or another. The first thing I usually do is think 'how did this situation occur and what could the criminally minded drug addicted dosser have done to avoid it'. I suppose for once that is of no help. I do eat a lot of chicken though. I have never thought about bird welfare whilst tucking into a chicken sandwhich.

    |   -4
  • lhasa27  |  February 01 2013, 10:03PM

    Humans like you SidneyNuff are the actual plague pf Natural Resources. What an evil thing to say. Have you been to the beaches and seen these poor birds terrified and struggling to not drown? Not to mention the many who have already done do. ?

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  • SidneyNuff  |  February 01 2013, 8:19PM

    Come on, it's not as if we are short of seabirds, they are practically a plague. The only thing Torquay has more of is drug addicts living on benefits.

    |   -5
  • rubydogsouth  |  February 01 2013, 3:48PM

    Hi Bleach sadly no is the answer but I am but a simple person who cares about the environment and they are a government agency entrusted to monitor and look after our fragile ecosystems with vast resources ( they have 46 boats alone to monitor the marine environment) and a budget of £1,025 million. so should know who is causing the dreadful act of pollution resulting in so many birds being found.

    |   4
  • Bleach  |  February 01 2013, 2:07PM

    @rubydogsouth maybe you could tell them. What's that? You don't know either? Who'd have thought.

  • Syrrets  |  February 01 2013, 12:09PM

    I hope the authorities find and prosecute whoever is responsible for this pollution - they deserve to suffer a heavy penalty. Well done to the RSPCA and RSPB for trying to save these unfortunate seabirds.

    |   6
  • rubydogsouth  |  January 31 2013, 10:22PM

    The EA will be the last people to know where the pollution came from !!!!!!

    |   -5