Keep up to date with the latest news delivered direct to your Inbox.
Pollution Fears over Seabird Mystery
5:55am 1st February 2013
Wildlife experts are baffled after seabirds covered in a mystery white substance washed up in Cornwall.
Hundreds of birds have been washed-up from the Duchy to Dorset covered in an unidentified "creamy, waxy substance".
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the guillemots, a kind of auk, were discovered on Lyme Bay near Weymouth, the coast of of Portland in Dorset, and in Cornwall.
Many of them have been taken to West Hatch Animal Centre in Taunton, but attempts to clean them have been hampered by not knowing what the substance is, said RSPB official Grahame Madge.
"At the moment, the best guess is there are around 100 birds ashore, and there are concerns the birds are affected in as widespread a region as from Cornwall to Sussex," he explained.
"So we could be dealing with quite a large incident as all these birds could be proved to come from the same pollution incident.
"We are urging the Government to identify the source of the pollution and the pollutant."
Peter Venn, the manager of the RSPCA in West Hatch, Somerset, said: "The numbers of birds arriving in to our centre are growing and we are doing all we can to help them - but it is too early to tell how successful these attempts will be.
"We do not know what this substance is or where it has come from yet, but we do know it is not fuel.
"It may be byproduct from manufacture, but at this stage we just do not know.
"We would urge anyone who finds any of these birds to contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.
"There are also reports of the sticky substance washing up on the beach, so we would urge people walking their dogs in the area to also be careful."
A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "We have received reports of seabirds being washed ashore covered in a white, waxy substance, from Cornwall to Portland, Dorset."
Dorset County Council warned members of the public about handling distressed birds on the south coast.
"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," a spokesman said.5:55am 1st February 2013
Share This StoryTweet
Brexit bill to be defeated by Lords over EU nationals' rights
National News: The House of Lords is set to give the Government its first defeat on the Article 50 Brexit bill as early as Wednesday on the issue of protecting the rights of EU nationals.
Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's funeral: Sister hopes socialite 'heals in heaven'
Showbiz News: Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's sister has led the tributes at the socialite's funeral, saying she hopes "angels wrap their wings" around her and she "heals in heaven".
SpaceX to fly two tourists around the Moon next year
World News: SpaceX has announced plans to fly two private citizens around the Moon next year, in the first manned US mission since the 1970s.
Foxes' first win of 2017 amid fan protests over Ranieri sacking
Sports News: Leicester City proved there is life after Claudio Ranieri by winning their first match of 2017 - days after the man that led them to last season's Premier League title was sacked.
Police officer commandeers gritter lorry to find missing boy
Strange News: A missing boy has been found thanks to a quick-thinking police officer who commandeered a gritter lorry to track him down.