The birds, mainly guillemots, are covered in a white, waxy, glue-like substance reports the Daily Mail
. The RSPB, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, confirmed that most of the birds were washed up on Chesil Beach in Dorset. There have however been reports of distressed birds being found 200 miles away on Cornish beaches.
Volunteers have been working hard to rescue as many birds as possible. They have worked tirelessly and often endangered their own lives in order to save the distressed birds.
reports that around 90% of the birds found have been guillemots and 10% razor bills. There has also been one report of a dead puffin and one dead cormorant. The majority of the birds washed up have been alive but there are concerns that hundreds of birds may be dying out at sea.
More than 100 rescued birds have been taken to West Hatch Animal Centre in Taunton
it was claimed that a rogue oil tanker at sea dumping oil was the possible cause of this tragedy, That has not been confirmed and the source remains unknown.
Thursday Steve Trewhella, a naturalist based in Dorset, worked to help rescue as many birds as possible. According to the BBC
They're covered in this sticky resin. It's not oil, we don't really know what it is, it's clear. At first glance they just look wet, but when you touch them, their feathers are completely matted with [the oil], which means they can't clean themselves, they can't waterproof themselves, and consequently they'll freeze and die on the beach tonight if they're not taken away.
Initial media reports claimed that the birds were possibly covered in palm oil.
On Twitter Steve tweeted:
@RSPBSouthWest My gut feeling was this was not Palm oil, interesting, hope they find the source.
This was followed by:
@ChrisGPackham We rescued a load more Guillys today on Portland, Palm oil my arse
Saturday evening BBC television news confirmed that,
On Thursday 100 birds were rescued and 15 were dead
Thousands of birds have been washed up between Cornwall and West Sussex.
The number of dead birds continues to rise.
Friday 200 birds were found dead and 162 rescued by RSPCA.
wildlife presenter Chris Packham said:
What's particularly frightening is that if you're picking up a hundred on the beach, there could be very many more which have died and been lost at sea. So this could be a tip of an iceberg as it stands at the moment.
If this is a substance which is toxic and then gets into the food chain it can persist there for many years and have an influence over many other types of animal.
RSPB update here.
Steve Trewhella ([url=http://ukcoastalwildlife.co.uk/]http://ukcoastalwildlife.co.uk/
) has been actively involved in the rescue operation at Chesil Beach. As a conservationist and wildlife photographer based in the area he has caught images of the distressed birds. Time is obviously tight during such a dreadful situation but the images tell the story. Digital Journal has reproduced them in this report, with the kind permission of Steve. If time allows an interview will be added.
is a World Heritage Site beach.
It is located on the South coast of England, in the county of Dorset. It is a pebble beach 18 miles long and stretches north-west from Portland to West Bay. For much of its length it is separated from the mainland by an area of saline water called the Fleet Lagoon.
In November Steve recorded raw sewage being pumped onto the beach.