A serious case of bad publicity

Oil-stained Northern Rockhopper Penguin on Nightingale Island, South Atlantic (Andrew Evans/National Geographic)

Talk about a serious case of bad publicity for big oil on top of an already catastrophic ecological disaster!

On March 16, the cargo ship MV Oliva, for unknown reasons, hit Nightingale Island in the remote southern Atlantic island chain of Tristan Da Cunha at a speed of 14 knots, spilling its load of soybeans and about 800 tons of fuel oil. The Tristan Da Cunha chain is the remotest set of inhabited islands in the world and Nightingale Island is home to about 20,000 of the endangered sub-species of Northern Rockhopper Penguin. The captain and crew escaped but the ship broke up in the heavy surf and an oil slick spread around the island.

It just so happens that Andrew Evans, a photographer for National Geographic Traveler, was headed to Nightingale Island on assignment. He was there fulfilling a lifelong dream of photographing its pristine shores that lie far “from the ills and pollution that plague other parts of the world.” Instead of an undisturbed ecosystem, he was greeted with the sight of penguins and seals dying beneath a coat of sticky black oil.

Evans photographed and has posted the results of the disaster. He says,

Today I watched as oil-stained penguins preened the oil from their feathers, which causes them to ingest large amounts of petroleum and will kill them if they are not treated. … It was a painful and disturbing scene. My only consolation is that the people of Tristan take their birds very seriously and the entire island is contributing to the rescue efforts.

Read his heart-wrenching blog post here and watch the video he posted of the oil spill’s aftermath below. With the 1-year anniversary of the BP Gulf Oil Spill approaching, this disaster doesn’t help the image of big oil at all. Incidentally, the ship was carrying Brazilian oil. President Obama recently told Brazil that the US stands ready to help them further develop their oil reserves and would be one of their best customers when they’re ready to sell.

2 responses to “A serious case of bad publicity

  1. Bu$hit III, corporate’s president select, is off to Rio to encourage more of this. He did not deal with BP last year, did no real commenting on the nuclear problem in Japan – the world and it’s inhabitants can’t take too much more of the willful blindness practiced by global politicians – why are we so silent? What happens thousands of miles from where any of us live – touch all of us.

    It is heartbreaking and life threatening. Thank you for this post.

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