Skogsøy Webshop Home Travel Gullfjell Contact
Tjeldstø Galleries Offshore Equipment  U.K. Links

Øygarden Services Articles Accommodation Books
Latest bird news in Øygarden

Specialities Other activities in Øygarden Accomodation in Øygarden Øygarden animals  Latest Bird News from Øygarden Øygarden Species List
Oiled Long-tailed Duck havelle at Svellingen

Server oil spill - an update
Previous pictures can be found here and  here
More pictures and info can be found on my blog
23 January 2008
The wreck of the Server
The remains of the Server - 03 January 2008

The wreck of the Server is still where it ran aground over a year ago; there is still oil obvious on some of the islands and skerries off Fedje. Counts of Eider duck in the areas affected by the spill are well down on normal levels - or not present at all. Long-tailed Duck, although present over much of the affected area, are much reduced in numbers - possibly by as much as 50%.  Further south in Øygarden numbers of both these species remain at normal levels.

I don't know whether  this is due to mortality or because the pollution (or the cleaning) has killed off their food supplies.

15 May 2007
Oil booms still in place
Oil booms still deployed at Sæle, 15 May 2007

The cleanup is nearing completion, although work continues at a number of locations in Øygarden. Deployed oil booms, bags of absorbents and "big bags" of contaminated debris can still be seen in a few places. Just during the few minutes I used to take the above photograph I saw two pairs of Northern Oystercatcher feeding on the previously contaminated shore, there were at least families of Greylag geese and a pair of Common Terns displayed in the area - it seems the cleanup is running well into the breeding season.

30 March 2007
Clean up north of Sæle

Although the Server oil spill at Fedje took place over 2 1/2 months ago the cleanup is still not completed. Areas used by breeding seabirds have been prioritised prior to Easter and it is hoped that the operation can be completed before Whitsun. Progress is painfully slow due to the nature of the coastline.

01 March 2007

Cleaning up near Sæle
Cleaning up near Sæle, 01 March
Oil and absorbents at Svellingen

Absorbents and new oil on the shore at Svellingen, 25 February

More oil at Svellingen
New oil appears to be still coming ashore

The forward half of the Server has now been emptied and has been towed away from CCB at Ågotnes. The cleanup crews are now moving south in Øygarden having completed priority areas around Hellesøy. However, there is still plenty of oil on some parts of the coast and it seems that some new oil is still appearing. Only occasional oiled birds being seen now, including a Common Guillemot at Solberg on 24 February.

Front half of the Server at CCB, Ågotnes
 Forward half of the "Server", currently being emptied at CCB, Ågotnes

19 February 2007
The cleaning of victims from the oil spill continues with 17 birds still being looked after at Sture (15 Eiders and 2 Long-tailed Duck). Amazingly there was a further spill, seemingly caused by innattentive workers, from the front half of the wreck which is being emptied at CCB, Ågotnes. Some 30 tons of oil overflowed from a tank used to store the contents of the wreckage that was towed to the facility the same day that the accident happened.

Oiled Eider Duck, Svellingen
Oiled Eider Duck / Ærfugl, Svellingen 22 January

22 January 2007
There have been many requests for updates, so here is a brief overview of the situation based on my own experiences.  Views here should in no way be construed as the views of any of the organisations invlolved in the clean-up.

I have spent the last week or so fully involved with the oil disaster doing all manner of things such as counting birds at various locations (both oiled and clean), spending two days out in a small boat catching birds with a net and generally assisting with the rescue and cleaning of seabirds as much as possible.

There is now a cleaning facility set up in Øygarden which is taking birds from Øygarden, Fedje (which bore the brunt of the spill) and from further afield. There is a chronic lack of facilities both in the field and at the centre. Oiled seabirds have received almost no budget in the cleanup and the vast majority of help is being provided purely by volunteers - this in a country that is supposedly the richest in Europe. Frustrating.

The care of oiled birds has begun
A male Eider being "flushed" with electrolytes

Oiled Eider duck being "flushed"

Paradoxically the rehabilitation facility is set up in one of Europe's largest oil terminals - Sture. Large oil tankers pass the island of Fedje routinely (daily?) and one dreads to think what would have happened if it was one of these that ran aground. During a recent set of cutbacks the oil response depot on the island had its capacity seriously reduced. Unbelievable.

Infuriatingly there have been conflicting commands issued to cleanup crew
s and even the local radio. Main message seems to have been kill the birds to put them out of their misery - and many duck have gone this way. This is an understandable response, indeed I have put an end to a couple of lives myself. However, since there are now facilities, undermanned and underequipped as they may be, the message should be to save as many seaduck as possible.

The reaction speed of the coastal authorities was apallingly slow - I witnessed oil booms being put into place on Thursday in areas which had been heavily contaminated at least two days prior to this. Quite apalling really.

Oil Boom with workers
Oil booms have been set up in an attempt to contain the oil. Too little too late for many areas of shoreline.

As of early today there were 14 birds (Eiders and Long-tailed Duck) at the facility in Øygarden and a further 13 on the way from Fedje where two teams were out at the weekend. Bad weather on Saturday put a stop to all boat operations and birds were found by combing the rugged and difficult coastline.

Catching the affected birds is no easy task and boats have been struggling to collect four birds per day. Weakened duck, Shags and Cormorants are often spotted on small islands where they intensively try to clean themselves. The tactic is to sneak up on these unfortunate creatures with the boat and catch them with a net. All too frequently they jump into the sea and dive - often disappearing completely.

Oiled Herring Gull
Oiled Herring Gull gråmåke, Davøy, 21 January

Although I do not have all the figures available myself it would be fair to say that in Øygarden at least 10% of the seaduck and gulls have been stricken by the spill with Eiders and Long-tailed Duck worst affected. Relatively small numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers have been hit - they tend to be most numerous in areas unaffected by the contamination. In all 15 species have been oiled including Little Auk alkekonge, Black Guillemot teist, Common Guillemot lomvi and Heron gråhegre. Numbers affected in the immediate vicinity of the wreck are harder hit with estimates of 30-40% being made. Oiled birds are being found over a wide area including much further north (where one large slick was seen to be heading) and further east into the fjords.

That the White-tailed Eagles have switched to this easy source of food does not help as the birds are extra nervous and rarely stray far from a perch from which they can easily reach the sea. Let's hope that these magnificent birds escape the worst of this oil spill.

All content on this site, including Natural Born Birder logo, is copyright © 2005- 2007

Birding Top 500 Counter