Rehab, washing – and drying

On October 22, the ship Marco Polo ran aground in Pukavik bay in western Blekinge. Due to the heavy grounding, the fuel tank started leaking and later the ship ran aground two more times.

During Sunday, the Coast Guard, in collaboration with the municipality, county administration and support from the Home Guard, had taken up a total of over 25,000 liters of oil.

Major work has now begun in Hörvik’s harbor to clean the birds that were hit hard by the oil spill. Helping the birds wash off the oil that has stuck to the plumage is vital, according to the expert.

– It is deadly. If they don’t get help, they die, says Stefan Gabrielsson, responsible for Oil Protection Preparedness Disaster Relief Birds and Game, to TV4 Nyheterna.

Long process

Getting the birds clean of oil is a long process. But the most difficult work is getting the birds into the rehab facility, he says.

– If they are too active, they escape to the sea and there it is impossible to catch them.

Once the birds are brought to the facility, they are put in cages and provided with food and water. According to Gabrielsson, it can take up to one or two weeks before the birds are in condition and have received enough rehab to be able to wash off all the oil.

For slightly smaller birds, the washing process can take about 45 minutes to an hour, he says. Larger birds, such as swans, require more time and are not ready to be placed in the warm space to dry until after two hours.

The goal is to release the birds into the open, he says.

– The goal is for them to be able to return to a normal life and reproduce.

“We will be dragged into this for a long time to come”

After rehab, washing and drying comes the final test for the birds. They get to swim in a pool to see if they are waterproof or not. If not, you must wash the birds again, otherwise they are released into an outdoor aviary to eat and wash through the plumage, says Gabrielsson.

He fears that the work will take a long time – as there are many birds in this particular area.

– We will drag this out for a long time to come, says Gabrielsson.

On Wednesday morning at 07:00, the salvage work of the Marco Polo began towards Stillerydshamnen in Karlshamn, according to The Coast Guard.

At 12:30 in the afternoon, there was no forecast for when the ship should be in port, according to the Coast Guard.