Blue penguins bear the brunt of the Rena oil spill

Statistics show that little blue penguins were the most affected by the Rena oil spill.

Over the duration of the event, 383 oiled little blue penguins were admitted to the oiled wildlife facility for care. Of these 365 (95%) were released back to the wild with only 18 birds succumbing to the ordeal (thirteen required euthanasia and another five died in care).  89 dead oiled penguins were recovered through the response; just over one quarter of these birds had 90-100% oiling.

Returning the penguins to health and seeing them released back to the wild is a success story that many people can share in – not only those directly involved with the wildlife response but also those involved in the wider spill response; as without clean habitat, the birds could not have been released.

A post-release monitoring project is under way to assess their post-release survival and breeding success. A Massey University master’s student from Tauranga is overseeing this project with field assistance from locals. This project focuses on Mount Maunganui, Leisure Island and Rabbit Island and will run through the 2012‐2013 breeding season until at least March 2013.

A positive outcome of the event is that little blues became the face of the Rena Oiled Wildlife Response - finding a new place in the hearts of New Zealanders, and in the history books.

See a guided tour of the oiled wildlife facility during the height of the response.