RSPCA release rehabilitated oiled seabirds into the wild
The RSPCA has, this week, released a number of the oiled seabirds that have been cared for at one of their centres in Sussex.
Over 300 birds were taken into care after being contaminated with Polyisobutylene (PIB) or butyl rubber, a colourless synthetic rubber, three weeks ago.
The majority of the birds in question were guillemots but there were also some razorbills.
They were mainly being cared for at the RSPCA’s West Hatch wildlife centre in Taunton, Somerset, however, 65 of them were taken to Mallydams Wood in Hastings, East Sussex.
And, last Sunday, the staff from the East Sussex centre took 22 of the guillemots to the beach at Pett level, which is close to the centre, and then proceeded to release them back into the wild.
Bel Deering, manager at Mallydams Wood, said: “Our staff have done a fantastic job in cleaning and caring for these birds and now some of them are strong and fit enough to be released back to the wild where they belong.
“They arrived in quite a weak state and needed quite a bit of care and attention to get them rehydrated, fed and strong again before we could wash the sticky substance off them.”
The rest of the birds will be cared for at mallydams until their rehabilitation is complete before also being released back to sea in the coming weeks.
The first of the birds that were discovered covered in the oily substance were found on 29th January and then the numbers increased dramatically in the next few days.
The vast majority of the birds discovered, were found on beaches in Dorset - mainly Chesil Beach, near Portland, and Weymouth.
Others were found further along the Sussex coast in Folkestone, one in Cornwall and a couple were found on the Isle of Wight. Others have been reported to have been found as far away as Ostend, in Belgium, covered in the same sticky goo.
Unfortunately many of these were found dead, however, RSPCA inspectors and volunteers have managed to do their best to save as many as they could. They took them to West Hatch.
The Environment Agency took a sample of the substance and sent it for testing. The results showed it was Polyisobutylene.
Staff at the wildlife centres initially tried to clean the substance off the birds with washing up liquid, but this did not get the substance off. Subsequent attempts to use margarine were a lot more successful.
Picture courtesy of the RSPCA