WSAVA small animal veterinary conference
WSAVA small animal veterinary conference – NZ Wildlife 8 March 2013
The wildlife stream of sessions at the conference, SkyCity, Auckland, covers a range of wildlife veterinary care issues, including care of the kakapo and kiwi, critical care for avian patients and a report from the Rena disaster on the successful recovery of oiled birds.
For further information or interviews regarding the Rena spill and oiled birds, please contact Dr Kerri Morgan on 021 241 4227
Veterinarians save oiled birds during the Rena emergency
On October 5, 2011, the container vessel Rena struck Astrolabe Reef in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, carrying 1770 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 1330 containers. Over the following week, around 350 tonnes of heavy fuel oil was released, impacting the shoreline and local wildlife.
Veterinarians from Massey
University’s Wildbase animal hospital moved quickly to
save birds affected by the oil spill. Dr Kerri Morgan will
present a report on the outcome of the Wildbase efforts at
3.00 pm at the conference. Kerri is the Senior Lecturer in
Avian and Wildlife Health
Wildbase at the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University.
A total of 420 oiled live birds were collected during the entire spill response. Little blue penguins (Eudyptula minor) made up the majority of admissions with 383 live oiled birds admitted between October 2011 and January 2012. In addition to the penguins, oiled bird admissions included six shearwaters, 19 petrels, five shags and seven other various species.
At the peak of the wildlife response, 347 live oil-affected birds (excluding NZ dotterels) were in care.
After treatment and rehabilitation, the first public release of penguins occurred on 22nd November, with the majority released by late December. Overall, 375 birds were released back to the wild, including 365 little blue penguins. A total of 45 birds were euthanased or died in care.
Sixty endangered New Zealand dotterels were pre-emptively captured to protect them from becoming oiled. Five birds had a degree of heavy fuel oil contamination of the feathers that required birds to be washed. About two-thirds of birds had oil contamination of the legs that was able to be resolved with alcohol wipes on capture.
After being held in captivity for a median time of 49 days (range 39-61 days), 54 birds were released to the wild. Six birds developed respiratory distress and died.
A total of 2,030 coastal and marine birds, 23 terrestrial birds, nine unidentified birds, 17 NZ fur seals and four whales were found dead and were collected during the Rena wildlife response between 7th October and 22nd November 2011.
Of these, those oiled included 1367 (67%) of coastal/marine birds; six (26%) of terrestrial birds; three (33%) of unidentified birds; and three (18%) of NZ fur seals. It should be noted that in some cases, it was not possible to identify whether birds were oiled pre or post-mortem.