The RSPCA released some of the oiled birds at Portland today.
Peter Venn, manager at West Hatch, said: "Our staff have done a fantastic job in cleaning and caring for these birds and now some of them are strong and fit enough to be released back to the wild where they belong.
"They arrived in quite a weak state and needed quite a bit of care and attention to get them rehydrated, fed and strong again before we could wash the sticky substance off them."
The first birds covered in the oily substance were found on 29 January then numbers increased dramatically over the next few days.
The vast majority of the birds were found on beaches in Dorset - mainly Chesil Beach, near Portland and Weymouth. There were some found further along the coast in Folkestone, one in Cornwall and a couple in the Isle of Wight. There have also been reports of birds found in Ostend covered in the same sticky goo.
Sadly many of those found on the beaches were dead, but inspectors and volunteers did their best to save as many as they could and take them to West Hatch.
The Environment Agency took a sample of the substance and sent it for testing. The results showed it was Polyisobutylene.
Staff at the wildlife centres initially tried to clean the substance off the birds with washing up liquid, but this did not get the substance off. Subsequent attempts to use margarine were a lot more successful.
Dorset Wildlife Trust staff assisted the RSPCA in the recovery of approximately 300 live seabirds, mainly guillemots, from Chesil and surrounding shores between 30th January and 4th February. Since this time, no live birds have been reported in Dorset. There are still reports of dead birds washing up.
The sticky white contaminant congealing the feathers of the birds is now known to be polyisobutene (PIB), a low toxic lubricant which is permitted to be released into the sea at low levels outside 12 nautical miles. However, concerns have been raised over this, particularly as the wildlife effects of this substance have been seen in three additional incidents around Europe.
Click here for RSPB comment.
Previously: 1st Feb: The following press release was issued by Dorset County Council with our co-operation. Our staff are assisting RSPCA at Chesil Beach and all birds collected are going to RSPCA West Hatch in Somerset. For latest information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH ANY BIRDS THAT YOU FIND AND DO NOT GET TOO CLOSE TO THEM TO AVOID UNNECESARY DISTRESS OR DRIVING THEM BACK INTO THE WATER.
Members of the public are being warned about handling distressed birds on the south coast, including Dorset.
During the past 24 hours, a number of live birds have washed up on beaches covered in an unknown substance.
Staff from the RSPB, RSPCA and Dorset Wildlife Trust have been working to take the birds into care and clean them up ready to be released into the wild.
While the substance is being identified, agencies are urging people to avoid coming into contact with the birds and to keep pets away from the shoreline.
If anyone spots an affected bird or animal, they should report it to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.
About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust is part of the Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership; connecting people with nature
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
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