Friday, April 11, 2008

Super Fairy Penguin Survives Oil Spill, Doubles Life Span

A fairy penguin from a Tasmanian colony decimated by an oil spill 13 years ago has astounded experts by clocking up double the average living years of its kind, and returning to the scene of the disaster to die.

From The World Today :
Fairy, or little penguins, usually only live for six years but this one lived for more than 14 before it died.

The discovery of the penguin's body has delighted the scientist who plucked him from an oil slick in 1995.
Delighted? Fairy penguin scientists are hard men.
The male penguin was already an adult in 1995 when the bulk carrier the Iron Baron ran aground on the North Tasmanian coast spilling 325 tonnes of fuel oil.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 fairy penguins were killed by the oil slick.

Nick Mooney was the first biologist on the scene of the oil spill.

NICK MOONEY: It's fantastic to know that what we did worked. We studied them for some time after so we knew there was the recovery of the colonies. Birds came back, did some breeding. There was a slowdown in breeding because the whole process with oiling can damage the kidney and liver somewhat but it is fantastic to know that the birds are more or less living normal lives well after that oil spill.

Mr Mooney says the fact the fairy penguin lived for so long shows the value of rescuing birds from oil spills and just how tough the little penguins can be.
Don't tell Exxon. They'll use this information to claim that oil spills are actually quite good for fairy penguins, and really big oil spills have been known to double the lifespan of the cute little birds.