Covered in a sticky substance and unable to move, hundreds of seabirds have been found washed up along the South coast of Britain with experts speculating ship waste dumping as the likely source.

Covered in a sticky substance and unable to move, hundreds of seabirds have been found washed up along the South coast of Britain with experts speculating ship waste dumping as the likely source.

The washed up birds were 90% guillemots and 10% razorbills, and were found over a wide area of coastline, suggesting the pollution incident occurred at high sea.

After extensive testing, the substance was found to be polyisobutane (PIB), an oily substance that is used in commonly household products. However, when mixed with sea water it is known to become glue like, and the substance has previously been implicated in thousands of sea bird deaths.

Legally, ships are allowed to discharge PIB at sea but under certain conditions. The UK group, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, is now calling on the International Maritime Organisation to rethink the classification of PIB and make the discarding of this substance as sea illegal.

In addition, SAR UK member the Marine Conservation Society said the incident further highlights the need for a comprehensive network of marine protected areas. They argue that creating safe havens would protect vulnerable species from such disasters by allowing populations to be strong enough to withstand the impact.


Marine Conservation Society


To read the RSPB blog for up to date information


To read an article written by RSPB for Ecologist

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