The bulk ore carrier Treausre
sank of Cape Town between Dassen and Robben Islands. These
two islands support the largest number of African penguins. The ship sank on the 23rd of June
2000. More than 19000 penguins became oiled, almost twice the amount of the previouse oil disaster
the Apollo Sea
in June 1994. Some 19000 penguins were collected for cleaning and care (it
takes 2 volunteers 1 hour to clean 2 penguins). About 150 adult birds died in the wild, a further
19500 clean birds were captured and relocated by truck to Port Elizabeth, about 800km to the east
of Cape Town. Of all penguins caught, which amounted to less than 20% of the present population,
less than 2000 died within the first month, which is less than the Apollo Sea
must be credited to the swift response of Volunteers and especially SANCCOB's reaction to the
seriouness of the problem. The number of deaths would have been considerably higher if the birds
had not been relocated to Port Elizabeth. The birds were released off Port Elizabeth, and most returned to their homes within the
fist month. The relocation process is suspected to have broken up many breeding
pairs due to the difference in time in captivity. This is likely to decrease the amount of breeding
in the species. More than 3000 chicks were caught for artificial rearing, an estimated
4000, however, died before they could be rescued from the island. The spilt oil had only minor effects
on other bird species such as gulls and terns.
More Detailed description
was carrying about 1344 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, 56 tonnes of marine diesel, and
64 tonnes of lube oil. All exept about 25 tonnes of heavy oil fuel spilled into the sea. On the
29th of June, African Penguins began to come ashore at Dassen and Robben Islands. Booms were set up
attached to the breakwater at Murray Island at Robben Island in an attempt to prevent the oil reaching
that side of the coastline, the booms broke on the night of June 24th, which meant that any birds
arriving or leaving the island would become oiled.
UCT Demography unit
A few day later the oil moved towards Dassen Island, further north, and oil came ashore at Whale
Bay. The oil continued to move north up the coast with the currents, leading to concern that the
penguin colonies on islands in the West Coast National Park would also become oiled, but on the 1st of July no more
oil was observed north of Dassen Island.
Thanks to the co-operation of the volunteers and many other organizations, the oil was cleaned up, and
this particular spill was one of the first to adopt the polluter pays principal, but that still
needs to be worked on because the company owning the treasure only paid 2 million Rand of the cost.
The number of African Penguins removed from Robben Island exceeded the estimated number of adults
in plumage at this colony. Most of the birds that became oiled were caught by the 7th of July. About
40 days later the mortality of the penguins attributed to the spill was about 2000, adults and immature
birds together. About 39000 birds were handled, almost four times the amount handled during the Apollo
Sea spill, but deaths during the beginning of the Apollo Sea Spill were considerably lower than
the amount during the Treasure Spill. There are two reasons for this one is that it was necessary to
tp put down 800 penguins because they were in too poor a condition. The other is that
catching teams were stretched to their limits and had too little time to thoroughly search the breeding
grounds of the penguins.
Of the 19506 birds relocated about 241 were lost immediatly after they arrived at Cape Recife. Most
of the birds died during two trucking events. Examination suggests that the Carbon Monoxide
was leaked into the truck.
Most of the African Penguins released returned very quickly to Cape Town and the various colonies
they were part of.