Tiritea School pupils watch a little blue penguin being washed at Massey University.
Three little blue penguins affected by Friday’s diesel spill in Napier Harbour have had their first wash at Massey University.
The spill originated from the fishing vessel Mutiara 2 moored in the inner harbour. The regional Oil Spill Response Team responded to and contained the spill and recovered the penguins, which were stabilised and transferred to Massey’s Wildlife Health Centre on Monday for treatment.
Oiled Wildlife Response manager Helen McConnell and wildlife technician Pauline Conayne gave the three birds their first wash yesterday, watched by pupils from Tiritea School. The pupils have spent the last few months learning about oil spill response and raising money for the wildlife centre.
Ms McConnell says the penguins will hopefully not need any more washes. “They will be sent back to Napier once they are given a clean bill of health by one of our wildlife vets,” she says.
“Their waterproofing has to be 100 per cent restored. We assess this by ensuring the birds can spend six hours in the rehabilitation pool without getting wet to the skin. It’s important to test this so we can be confident that they can forage normally in the wild where they will spend all day feeding at sea.”
Ms McConnell is hopeful the birds will be returned to the wild in time to breed as the breeding season for this species is just starting.