News from Maritime NZ
Forty-nine little blue penguins were released on the beach at Mount Maunganui this morning, marking the first major release of wildlife from the oil spill in a programme which will continue for the next few weeks. The release was watched by 350 people. The birds have been micro-chipped and will be monitored to see whether the spill affects their long-term health.
The Director of Maritime NZ, Catherine Taylor, today thanked the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team for their contribution. The team is trained, managed and coordinated by specialists at Massey University. In addition to Massey staff, the NOWRT consists of other wildlife specialists and coordinators from the regions. This team is under contract to MNZ to provide an oiled wildlife response in the event of a marine oil spill.
Ms Taylor said the team had mobilised within hours of Rena grounding, and had very quickly established a facility for treating and housing the animals.
“Rena ran aground seven weeks ago tomorrow,” Ms Taylor said. “The oiled wildlife response team has been working tirelessly since then to collect and care for the animals affected by this spill. Their work has seen hundreds of birds rescued and nursed back to health, when otherwise they would not have survived.”
Ms Taylor said a large number of other agencies and individuals had been integral to the overall effectiveness of the response. “The local knowledge and expertise provided by Department of Conservation personnel has been invaluable to the response. The team has also been supported by wildlife specialists from around New Zealand and Australia, as well as US-based specialists from the conservation group International Bird Rescue and Oiled Wildlife Care Network.”
NOWRT coordinator Kerri Morgan echoed Ms Taylor’s gratitude. “This has truly been a team effort. We have had support from all over the country, and from our international colleagues. We have had an outstanding level of support from the local community. We’ve had so many people give up their time to help us care for the animals. Also, beyond the wildlife team, it’s important to recognise that every person who has contributed to the oil spill response has also played a part in the release today. The oil spill response teams have been working for weeks now to get the beaches to a standard safe to return the animals into – we also have to thank the salvors, the volunteers and the New Zealand Defence Force.”
PHOTOS from Maritime NZ – click on them for larger versions