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RSPB warns of threat to seabird population

The deaths of thousands of seabirds off the coast of the West Country during the recent storms is being declared a tragedy. More than a thousand have been found dead on our beaches.

But many thousands more have been killed by starvation and exhaustion at sea, washing ashore in France and Ireland. The RSPB warns it could threaten populations. Our environment correspondent Duncan Sleightholme reports.

Call for urgent action over seabird pollution

A seabird being cleaned after getting covered in the pollutant PIB earlier this year Credit: ITV News West Country

The RSPB says urgent action is needed to prevent a repeat of the pollution that harmed thousands of seabirds in our region earlier this year.

It welcomes the news that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is to ask the governing body, the International Maritime Organization, to reclassify the substance, PIB, making it illegal to dump it at sea.

But, if it does so, it will take time for the reclassification to become international law and the charity says something needs to be done now.

One of the birds after being treated for the pollutant Credit: ITV News West Country

Bird cruises are back this week on the River Exe

Bird watchers on one of the special cruises in the Exe estuary Credit: ITV News West Country

The RSPB is encouraging people to see the incredible bird life that descends on the Exe Estuary at this time of year. The charity has been running Avocet Cruises in autumn for more than 30 years.

The cruises, which start again this week, depart from Topsham and give people the chance to see some of the 40,000 birds that fly in from as far away as Siberia and Scandinavia.

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Pollution which killed sea birds may remain a mystery

Scientists investigating mass pollution which injured and killed hundreds of sea birds along the south coast say the source of the contamination may never be known.

Around 300 birds, mostly guillemots, were treated at the RSPCA West Hatch centre near Taunton following the spill. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said that it had been unable to trace the source of the spill and confirmed it has closed the investigation.

After tests were carried out on a sample of the product, it was identified as polyisobutene, or polyisobutyliene. This is a fairly common chemical carried aboard ships and it is produced in a large number of countries.Despite further tests, we have been unable to identify specific components of the product that may have helped us find the source. Unless we receive any new information, our investigation is now closed.

– Maritime and Coastguard Agency
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