Mystery Spill Threatens Welfare of Birds in East Sussex and Kent

Wildlife experts at the RSPCA are caring for 15 birds who were caught up in a mystery spill off the coast of East Sussex and Kent.

An emergency call came into the RSPCA on Friday (23 February) reporting birds who had been covered in contaminants following a spill off the Hastings coast.

Rescuers went to collect the birds and a total of eight guillemots, six razorbills and one gannet have been rescued so far.

The birds have all been transported to RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre, near Hastings, where the team have specialist equipment and skills for treating oiled birds. The centre’s rehabilitation team is run by Richard Thompson, the UK’s leading oiled bird rehabilitation expert. 

Richard said: “The birds are now stable and the Mallydams wildlife team are rehydrating the injured birds and supporting them. In the next few days we will wash the substance from the birds using our specialised facility. Once free of contaminants and given a clean bill of health, the birds will be released back into the wild, where they belong.

“We’re lucky to have decades of experience treating oiled birds, as well as specialised equipment to help treat them in a safe way. We’d urge anyone who sees an oiled bird not to attempt to rescue or treat them themselves, but to instead call the RSPCA for help on 0300 1234 999.”

If contaminants are not removed from waterbirds it reduces the natural waterproofing in their plumage, leaving them at risk of dying from hypothermia – so it is vital that they are treated as soon as possible.

Mallydams Wood centre manager, Peter Smith, added: “We’re very concerned these could be just the first of many birds that will be caught up in the contaminant spill and we’ve made emergency plans to rescue and treat any further birds who need our help.

“At the moment birds are being washed up across East Sussex and Kent and the slick seems to be moving across to the East. It’s incredibly alarming to see how many animals could be impacted by this.”

The Mallydams team is currently hand-feeding the birds as well as rehydrating them. They will begin washing the substance from their feathers once they’re strong and healthy enough.

  • Marine pollution incidents should be reported to the Marine Management Organisation on 0300 200 2024 (office hours) or 07770 977825 (out-of-hours).
  • Pollution on inland waterways or land should be reported to the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 807060.
  • Concerns an animal may have come into contact with oil or other contaminants should be reported to the RSPCA’s emergency hotline (8am-6pm); for advice on helping other injured or sick wildlife please check the RSPCA website wildlife pages.

🐦 To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing wildlife, like these seabirds, please donate online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *