British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue


2012-12-31 19:39:32

Breaking News: Guillemots washed up on south coast covered in mystery 'glue'

BDMLR has been alerted to hundreds of guillemots being washed up along the coast from Lands End to Portland, covered in an oily foam. If you find any, please ensure you wear gloves to handle the birds and do not atempt to clean them. If possible, they should be transported in a box with air holes and taken to RSPCA West Hatch near Taunton. Please call Dave Jarvis, BDMLR Cornwall Coordinator and Director, who is coordinating BDMLR's response, on 07774 711949

The following article is from The Telegraph, by Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent. Photo by Martin Cade.

Hundreds of guillemots have been washed up on the south coast covered in a mystery gluey substance amid fears thousands of birds will die, including other more rare species.

The birds were found on beaches from Cornwall to Sussex covered in the strange sticky substance.

There are 25,000 guillemots wintering off Dorset alone, as well as razor bills and puffins. The rare grebe and divers are also at threat.

The RSPCA, that is working to rescue the birds, said the substance is not oil or fuel and is proving impossible to remove.

The Environment Agency is carrying out tests to try to determine what the substance is.

Because guillemots spend winter on the surface of the sea, they are often the first species to indicate an environmental disaster

Peter Venn, manager of RSPCA West Hatch wildlife sanctuary where the birds are being taken, said they are not responding well to the usual methods of washing with soap and water.

“The numbers of birds arriving in to our centre are growing and we are doing all we can to help them – but it is too early to tell how successful these attempts will be.

"We do not know what this substance is or where it has come from yet but we do know it is not fuel. It may be bi-product from manufacture, but at this stage we just do not know.

“There are also reports of the sticky substance washing up on the beach, so we would urge people walking their dogs in the area to also be careful.”

Martin Cade, warden of Portland Bird Observatory, said "hundreds of birds" were being washed up covered in a "PVA glue-type" substance.

Dead and dying birds were found on Chesil Beach in Dorset and around Portland Bay.

Graham Madge of the RSPB, said it was extremely worrying for the thousands of seabirds wintering off the south coast, including rare species like the grebe.

“In conservation terms it could be significant,” he said.

Stephen Marsh
BDMLR Operations Manager