Stricken seabirds set free on cliff-top after clean-up
Dozens of sea birds caught up in mass pollution off the coastline have been released back into the wild after a month’s treatment.
About 300 birds, mostly guillemots, were cared for at the RSPCA West Hatch centre near Taunton, Somerset, over the past four weeks following the substance spill.
About two dozen birds were released back into the wild yesterdayfollowing the pollution, which affected a 200-mile stretch of coastline.
The guillemots were released two by two from containers on a grassy cliffside on Portland, Dorset.
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After a few tentative steps, they all flew out towards the English Channel.
Experts at Plymouth University had previously confirmed 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 was unable to trace the source of the spill and confirmed it had closed the investigation. Staff at West Hatch first tried to clean the birds with normal soapy water, which was not successful in removing the sticky substance.
Wildlife assistants then had more success removing the sticky gloop after they cleaned them with margarine.
The centre dealt with around 300 birds at the height of the problem. Just over 60 were later transferred to another centre, while 90 died, despite the best efforts of staff. The birds are being released in stages, a spokesman said.