A zoological park in Lima is working to save endangered seabirds affected by the oil spill that contaminated the central coast of Peru.
More than 40 birds, including endangered Humboldt penguins, have been recovered from oil-soaked beaches after some 6,000 barrels of crude oil spilled a week ago north of the Peruvian capital. The birds were transported to Las Leyendas Zoological Park, where veterinarians and biologists are working to remove this oil and keep them alive.
However, their chances of survival are limited. “We are waiting to see how it goes day by day“, explained to AFP the biologist Liseth Bermúdez, who works in this park. “Never in the history of Peru have we seen a similar situation. There is no precedent (…) and we did not think it would be so important“, added this biologist.
And if the oil spill is not stopped quickly, other birds and marine species will disappear, warned his colleague, Guillermo Ramos, of the National Service of Forests and Sylvan Fauna. In Peru, about 150 species of birds depend on the sea for food and reproduction.
“We were not aware of the gravity of the situation”
The Peruvian coasts north of Lima were stained by oil which spilled at sea during the unloading of a tanker at the La Pampilla refinery, owned by the Spanish company Repsol, in the Lima region. According to the refinery, the accident which took place on January 15, was caused by a violent swell, following the volcanic eruption in Tonga. The tanker, the “Mare Doricum” flying the Italian flag, was loaded with 965,000 barrels of crude oil.
“We are doing everything we can, without sparing costs, to remedy this disaster as soon as possible.“, promised Repsol’s director for Peru, Jaime Fernández-Cuesta, to the Latina television channel on Sunday. “We were not aware of the seriousness of the situation until the arrival of the hydrocarbons on the beacheshe acknowledged.
21 beaches affected
Ocean currents carried crude oil off the coast more than 40 km from the refinery, hitting some 21 beaches, according to the health ministry, which advised people to avoid them. The Ministry of the Environment confirmed for its part on Sunday that more than 180 hectares of beaches, the equivalent of 270 football fields, and 713 at sea, had been contaminated.
The Peruvian government announced on Saturday a “environmental emergency“, which must allow a “sustainable management of affected areas“, with some “recovery and remediation workto mitigate the consequences of this disaster.