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RENA Maritime NZ Update (110)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011 3:12 p.m.

See the latest update below from Maritime NZ (www.maritimenz.co.nz)

25 October 2011: 2.15am

A new enclosure for little blue penguins at the Wildlife Response Centre at Te Maunga is well on its way to completion. The builders aim to have three of the planned 10 aviaries finished by this afternoon.

Each aviary can house up to approximately 25 penguins, and has an indoor pool and communal areas for the penguins to preen, feed and swim.

Oiled Wildlife Response Manager Kerri Morgan said it was important to monitor the penguin's health and condition, especially at feeding times.

"Correct feeding is a critical part of the rehabilitation process and our staff take great care when feeding the penguins.

"We use either sprats or anchovies and need to ensure that none of the natural oils from the fish get on the birds' feathers as this can damage their natural waterproofing. The penguins are all doing really well and have a great fighting spirit," said Ms Morgan.

"We have 314 penguins in our care and the enclosures will be able to house them more comfortably long term. It is too early at the moment to say when they can be released, but we want to ensure all the penguins are healthy and well nourished before this takes place."

The penguins get fed twice a day and eat five to seven fish per feeding. They also have one swim a day. This lets them condition and preen their feathers, which is crucial to their re-waterproofing.

In total the centre now has 379 live birds in its care. This includes the 60 New Zealand dotterels that were caught pre-emptively. As at 9am this morning there were:

  • clean birds: 60 NZ dotterels, 1 shearwater, 1 tern, 3 pied shags and 206 little blue penguins
  • oiled birds: 108 little blue penguins.

The total number of dead birds as at 6pm yesterday is 1,370. Post-mortems are being carried out on the birds to determine if oiling is the cause of death.

No oil has spilled from Rena since Saturday night and there is only a thin film now in the surrounding area of the vessel.

The oil spill response team is continuing to track the movement of the 5-10 tonnes spilled on Saturday.

National On Scene Commander Rob Service said the oil was breaking down and weathering, and at this point was remaining in the vicinity of Rena.

"Our trajectory modelling currently indicates it may move towards Tūhua/Mayor Island late in the week. We have deployed teams to the island to assess what impact this may have on the shoreline and wildlife and what our response options might be."

An update on the amount of oil removed by the salvage team will be given at this afternoon's 3.30pm media conference.

By yesterday afternoon, 481 tonnes had been removed from the number 5 port tank, about a third of the total amount on board after the initial spillage of 350 tonnes.

RENA oil spill response blue penguin 2 low res