Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another Spill, Another IBA

A crude oil spill in South Korea threatens two Important Bird Areas:

Tens of thousands of volunteers and soldiers have battled for 10 days to attempt to clean up thousands tons of crude oil, some of which is now threatening to enter Cheonsu Bay, about 95 miles southwest of the capital Seoul. The bay is a vital for wintering birds and large numbers of birds also use it as a stopover site during migration. If it were to become contaminated it could lead to a wildlife catastrophe.

Oil has already coated (and been largely/partly cleaned up from) several kilometres of coast, with much of the thickest oil having been washed up on c.30 km of beaches. At sea, the broken slick now apparently extends up to c.130 km south from the spill centre, with oil washing up on beaches and tidal-flats as far south as the Geum Estuary.

The Geum Estuary-Seocheon coastline alone holds many thousands of wintering birds including Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Shelduck Tadorna tadorna and the Vulnerable Saunders’s Gull Larus saundersi.