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More birds washed up on South coast

The number of birds being found dead on the South coast is continuing to rise. Most of the guillemots - which have been coming into the RSPCA centre since Tuesday - were washed up at Chesil Beach, near Portland - covered in a sticky substance.

But they've also been found in West Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Richard Lawrence has the latest.

Oily seabirds found on Sussex coast - latest

Hundreds of birds have been washed-up along the south coast, covered in an unidentified "creamy, waxy substance". Credit: PA

Hundreds of seabirds have died after being covered in a "refined mineral-based oil mixture", with many of them found along the Sussex coast, the Environment Agency has said.

Almost 200 birds - mostly guillemots - are being treated at RSPCA centres along the southern coast after they were washed ashore covered in the white, sticky substance.

There was earlier speculation the mystery substance may have been palm oil, but scientists working to identify it have since reported that it is a refined mineral oil.

Staff took samples from the affected water in an effort to establish the cause of the pollution.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: "The results show that it is a refined mineral-based oil mixture, but not from an animal or vegetable-based oil, which rules out palm oil."

RSPCA deputy chief inspector John Pollock, who has been leading the rescue mission in Dorset, earlier described the substance as "white, odourless and globular".

He added: "It is like a silicone sealer. The best way I can think to describe it is 'sticky Vaseline'."

Staff at the RSPCA West Hatch centre near Taunton, Somerset, have been treating the birds using margarine and washing up liquid to clean the substance from their feathers.

Peter Venn, manager at West Hatch, said: "What we are hearing are reports of birds showing up on the Sussex coast, so that may mean that the weather is pushing them more easterly.

"This certainly adds up from the basis that we were getting birds earlier in the week from Cornwall, Devon, then up through Dorset and have had birds from Hampshire today, so everything is certainly not over by any means."

Experts no closer to bird pollution answers - full report

Wildlife experts are no closer this evening to discovering what the mystery substance is that has caused hundreds of sea birds to wash up on the south coast.

Most of the guillemots have been found at Chesil Beach in Dorset. But one bird has been found alive as far as Worthing in West Sussex - another, discovered on the Isle of Wight.

More than 100 of the birds have been taken to an RSPCA centre in Somerset as the Environment Agency investigates where the sticky substance has come from.

Martin Dowse speaks to RSPCA Insp John Pollock, volunteer Martin Usborne and Martin Cade from Portland Bird Observatory.


  1. West Country (W)

Investigation into seabird "pollution"

An investigation is continuing into how more than a hundred birds came to be covered in a mysterious sticky substance on a 200-mile stretch of coastline in Dorset.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) were called to the south coast yesterday after the troubled guillemots, a member of the auk family, were discovered on Lyme Bay near Weymouth.

Environment Agency staff have taken samples of the affected water in an attempt to discover what the mysterious substance is.

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