Carlos Mandujano (AFP)
Lima, Peru ●
Mon, January 24, 2022
After 6,000 barrels worth of crude oil were blown off Peru’s coast by waves from a South Pacific volcanic eruption, a Lima Zoo is trying to save as many seabirds as possible, including protected penguins.
After being rescued form beaches and nature reserves, more than 40 birds including Humboldt penguins were brought to Parque de Las Leyendas.
Biologist Liseth Bermudez said to AFP that she had never seen anything similar in Peru’s history while tending a bird.
“We didn’t expect it to be this large.”
A team veterinarians is caring to the birds. They bathe them with special detergents in order to remove the oily suffocating oils.
The animals were also given vitamins and anti-bacterial drugs.
Bermudez stated that “The birds’ prognosis remains unclear.” “We are doing everything possible.”
Peru has declared an environmental emergency after almost 264,000 gallons (1.2 million liters) of crude oil spilled into the sea last Saturday when a tanker was hit by big waves while offloading at a refinery.
The unusually large waves were caused by an eruption of an underground volcano near Tonga archipelago, thousands of kilometers away.
The spill near Lima has fouled beaches and harmed the fishing and tourism industries, with crews working non-stop to clean up the mess.
Sunday’s statement by the environment ministry indicated that more than 180 ha (or approximately 270 soccer fields) of beach and 713ha of sea were affected due to the spread of oil by sea currents along the coast.
The health ministry has advised bathers to avoid at least 21 beaches that are affected.
Contaminated bird food
Guillermo Ramos, a biologist from Peru’s Serfor forest service, said that more animals would die if the oil spreads.
He said, “There are species that feed on fish that are already contaminated”
Serfor staff discovered many dead birds, sea otters, and natural reserves on beaches and in natural reserve areas since the spillage, he stated.
More than 150 bird species from Peru rely on the sea for their nutrition and reproduction.
There were six Humboldt penguins and six cormorants among the birds that were rescued, but they were still in danger.
Juan Carlos Riveros is the scientific director of Oceana Peru rescue NGO. He said that oil could cause problems in the reproduction of certain animals and birth defects in some birds and fish, particularly turtles.
Repsol, a Spanish oil company, has offered compensation to the government.
However, the company denies any responsibility, stating that maritime authorities did not warn of abnormal waves following the Tonga eruption.
Jaime Fernandez-Cuesta (President of Repsol Peru) stated Sunday that Repsol was doing everything possible to mitigate the environmental damages.
Fernandez Cuesta said that she was doing all she could to correct the entire disaster.