A tragic freighter
accident 200 miles west of Oslo that killed 18 crew members,
also spilled 445 tons of fuel oil into a Norwegian fjord,
threatening an estimated 10,000 seabirds in a nearby reserve.
The International Bird
Rescue Research Team (IBRRC www.ibrrc.org)
was called to send a team of experts
to the area to assist local wildlife
groups in the possible rescue of
thousands of oiled birds. IBRRC
and the International Fund for Animal
Welfare (IFAW www.ifaw.org)
partner to provide oiled wildlife
response, internationally. The 10-person
team, headed by Jay Holcomb, director
of the International Bird Rescue
Research Center includes IBRRC staff
and specially trained oil spill
veterans from around the world.
This is the first time oiled wildlife victims
off Norway’s coast are being rescued for possible rehabilitation.
Normal procedure up to this point has been to shoot oiled
wildlife, rationalizing that as the most humane way to end
““Many countries in the world are
inexperienced and unprepared for oiled wildlife response,
or share a general belief that oiled birds cannot be saved.
However, it’s been proven that birds captured shortly
after becoming oiled can be rehabilitated, go on to breed,
and live a normal life span,” said Jay Holcomb. “Since
the possibility that already threatened species may be oiled
from this disaster, it is important that they be rescued by
experienced professionals, utilizing a well thought out plan
that keeps human health and safety a priority.”
Norway’s coastline is a complex network of coves and
inlets with slippery, rocky shorelines, making rescue operations
A rehabilitation center has been setup on the Island of Askoy
and an appeal through the Norwegian media has led to volunteers
offering the use of their boats to search for oiled birds.
An estimated one thousand birds have been oiled
with eider ducks and herring gulls the most impacted. A nature
reserve further north contains species of concern, including
velvet scoters, black scoters and long-tailed ducks.
Return to list of
Karen Benzel, International Bird Rescue Research
Office: (831) 622-7588