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UPDATE: More sea birds washed up on Cornish beaches

By CGHollie  |  Posted: April 13, 2013

  • More sea birds washed up on Cornish beaches

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UPDATE: Sunday, 2.49pm: More seabirds have been taken to Cornwall's RSPCA centre today covered in a sticky substance.

Another 10 guillemots were taken to the St Columb rescue centre this morning with more expected.

A spokesperson for the centre said it was "on-going".

Saturday, 10.32am: Cornwall's RSPCA centre is expecting an influx of yet more sea birds after dozens continue to be washed up covered in a sticky substance across the Cornish coastline.

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St Columb's rescue centre has this morning shipped 39 birds - 38 guillemots and one razor bill - up to the RSPCA West Hatch wildlife centre in Taunton, Somerset, where their treatment will continue.

They are covered in a sticky substance which is believed to be the same as that found on hundreds of birds in February.

Claire Martin, animal care supervisor at St Columb's RSPCA centre, said it was expecting more birds to arrive today.

"When they arrive they are very, very sticky; they were just sticking to the towels,” she said.

"We act as an emergency hold; we try to give them the best chance we can.

"We tube them and give them a substance called electrolyte which rehydrates them. Cleaning them is not an option; cleaning birds needs to be done by specialists.

"They were all transferred up to West Hatch this morning, which was no mean feat.

"We are expecting more today but haven't had any as of yet."

Of the birds, 15 were taken to the centre on Thursday while a further 25 arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, one of the guillemots did not survive the night due to its poor condition.

They were found across Cornwall's coastline, but mainly on the south coast such as in Talland Bay, Looe, Gorran Haven, St Mawes and Mevagissey.

In February, scores of sea birds were injured and hundreds more were killed by the pollutant, which affected a 200-mile stretch of coastline.

Experts at Plymouth University found the mystery substance was almost certain to be polyisobutene, an oil additive known as PIB which has a chemical mixture ranging from oils to solids.

But the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said it had been unable to trace the source of the spill and confirmed it had closed the investigation.

Staff at West Hatch first tried to clean birds with soapy water, which was not successful in removing the sticky substance. They had more success removing it after cleaning them with margarine.

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