Environmental News from South America:
- Of the 147 birds — mainly Guanay cormorants, Peruvian boobies, and Humboldt penguins — rescued from an oil spill off Lima and brought to the city’s Parque de las Leyendas Zoo for treatment, only 79 have survived.
- Mongabay Latam joined officials from SERNANP, Peru’s protected areas agency, as they scoured the oil-hit area around the Guano Islands, Islets, and Capes National Reserve System to record the number of affected animals, dead and alive.
- The Jan. 15 spill resulted in 11,900 barrels of oil pouring into the sea, with the company responsible, Spain’s Repsol, reportedly failing to take containment measures immediately.
- The spill has also devastated local fishers, who until then had been recognized by the Peruvian government for their environmentally responsible fishing practices.
It’s Jan. 29, two weeks after an oil spill off Pocitos Beach in the Ancón protected area, and one’s eyes and skin still burn when walking near the oil-blackened rocks. Like pasty mud, the oil still covers stones along the shore and seeps everywhere with each wave.
The spill was a freak incident that observers say should never have been allowed to happen: it occurred as oil was being pumped out of an oil tanker and into Repsol’s La Pampilla refinery during unusually high waves. Those waves were generated by the Tonga volcanic eruption and ensuing tsunami some 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) across the Pacific.
Fifty minutes offshore, around Los Pescadores Island, part of the Guano Islands, Islets, and Capes National Reserve System, fisherman Abelino Ramírez can see containment barriers being installed. It’s the first time since the spill began that he’s seen these floats, which are meant to prevent the oil slick from reaching the rocks where thousands of birds gather and onto which sun stars and starfish attach themselves, and where snails, octopuses, fish, and mollusks shelter.
“Yesterday they weren’t there,” he says as he steers his boat toward the island, where the polluted waves crash against the rocks, now crowned with a yellow foam — a clear sign that the installed barriers arrived too late.
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