Last March, the MV Oliva ran aground off the coast of Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic. The cargo shipped spilled 800 tons of fuel oil into the ocean, where it quickly enveloped the island. Endangered Northern Rockhopper Penguins ended up coated with oil and dying.
By chance, National Geographic Traveler Andrew Evans had set sail for the islands and arrived shortly after the wreck of the Oliva. He documented the effects of the spill on the wildlife in his Traveler blog.
At the beginning of his video (below), the penguins are completely black. I’ve included a photo at the top of this post so that you can compare what they should look like – much of their body is white, with bright yellow feathers on their heads.
Nightingale Island belongs to the Tristan de Cunha group of islands, which has a population of roughly 300. The locals responded quickly and penned many of the penguins onto the island to prevent them from entering the water and becoming coated with oil. The locals were later joined by some folk from the mainland.
This year, Andrew Evans returned to Nightingale Island and saw a remarkable recovery. The coast is clean and the birds and other wildlife appear healthy. His latest video is below.
Northern Rockhopper Penguin photo via Shutterstock