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Hundreds of sea birds wash up on shores
MORE seabirds affected by a pollution spill were washed up on Dorset beaches at the weekend – and fears are growing that more will perish.
Dorset Wildlife Trust said birds had been found at Swanage and Chesil. Around 30 dead birds were discovered at Swanage and 20 were found at Chesil, while a number were washed up at Christchurch. Several hundred birds have been rescued.
Durlston Country Park said staff had managed to rescue 11 Guillemots and 3 Razorbills from Chapman's Pool area on Froday, but five more were found dead along with a Fulmar.
Thousands of birds have been washed up along the south coast after being covered in a sticky, oily substance. Hundreds – mostly guillemots – are now being treated at RSPCA centres.
Marc Smith, from Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “As the days go on the birds will become colder and more exhausted, lowering their chances of survival.
“If you see birds in your area please contact the RSPCA, who are leading the rescue effort.
“We know the public are keen to help but we strongly advise they do not try to rescue the birds.
“We do not want anyone putting themselves in danger and if the birds are not handled correctly they can end up exhausted, which reduces their chance of survival.
“The number of birds is staggering and there is a wider concern of the long-term impact this could potentially have on the marine environment.
“Dorset’s coastline is rich in marine wildlife including dolphins, sharks and seals.
“We do not know if this substance will enter the food chain or if other animals are being affected. Only time will tell what the long-term effects of this environmental disaster will be.”
The RSPB has warned that those responsible for the spill could be prosecuted.
Scientists from the Environment Agency identified the mystery substance as a refined mineral oil, but not from an animal or vegetable-based oil and they have ruled out palm oil.
Emma Rance, marine conservation officer for the Dorset Wildlife Trust, said that a change in the wind on Saturday had limited the numbers of birds being washed ashore.
“The north-west offshore wind is now blowing many seabirds out to sea, which will limit the rescuers’ ability to recover the affected victims.
“This will also increase the overall number of fatalities.”
With the wind changing direction yesterday, moving to come from the south, it was expected to bring ashore the bodies of more birds which died from the cold and exhaustion.