Thursday, 11 May 2006, 21:21 GMT 22:21 UK
Dead penguins found in Argentina
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires
More than 100 dead Magellan penguins, coated in oil, have been washed
up on the southern coast of Argentina.
Some 200 other penguins survived and are being treated and cleaned
before being released.
Authorities have implemented an emergency plan with environmental
workers patrolling the coastline on the lookout for more birds.
Meanwhile an investigation has been launched to establish where the oil
Cape Virgenes, where the penguins were discovered, is a remote
location in the far south of Argentina, a distance of some 2,400 km
(1,350 miles) from Buenos Aires.
The survivors have been taken to a cleaning centre in the nearby town
of Rio Gallegos.
More than 100 have been treated so far - the oil removed from their
eyes and breathing passages, and their feathers cleaned.
Covered in oil, the penguins cannot tolerate the cold waters of the
southern Atlantic, will not dive for food in the still-colder deep
waters, and simply will not catch enough fish to survive.
While the penguin rescue operation is under way, an investigation has
also been launched into where the oil came from - whether any petrol
company has reported a leak, or an oil tanker has lost some of its load.
So far nothing has been reported.
Once a year, 80,000 Magellan penguins go to Cape Virgenes to nest,
making it the second-biggest penguin colony in the world after Point
Tombo further up the Atlantic coast.
As the southern hemisphere winter sets in, many penguins had already
migrated to warmer areas, which the experts hope will keep the number
of casualties to a minimum.
To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)