23 January 2008
The remains of the Server - 03 January 2008
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 deployed at Sæle, 15 May 2007
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
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, 01 March
Absorbents and new oil on the shore at Svellingen, 25 February
New oil appears to be still coming ashore
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.
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
Oiled Eider Duck / Ærfugl,
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
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 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.
A male Eider being "flushed" with electrolytes
Infuriatingly there have
been conflicting commands issued to cleanup crews 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
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
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 gråmåke, Davøy, 21 January
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.