Atlantic Oil Spill Coats Endangered Penguins
Nightingale Island surrounded by giant crude slick
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2011 6:21 PM CDT
In this image made available by Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds on Tuesday March 22, 2011 shows three oiled rock hopper penguins on the island chain of Tristan da Cunha.   (AP Photo/Trevor Glass,RSPB. Ho)
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(Newser) – An oil spill has covered thousands of endangered penguins in crude after a cargo ship ran aground on an island in the South Atlantic, the AP reports. The MS Olivia of Malta broke into two pieces after it hit Nightingale Island in the Tristan da Cunha chain. Its 1,650 tons of crude oil spilled into the ocean. While all crew members were rescued, a huge slick surrounds Nightingale Island—a situation that a Tristan da Cunha conservationist called "a disaster."

About 20,000 of the island's 200,000 penguins might be affected, according to one environmentalist. The island is home to nearly half the world's total of northern rockhopper penguins—a species classified as endangered. In addition, the spill could endanger the lobster fishing that sustains the tiny community of 275 people.
 

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