M/V Rena

Source of pollution: 
Animals affected
More than 2,000 birds oiled during breeding season. Secondary impacts from contamination of rookeries and chicks are being studied through New Zealand government grants.
A small number of New Zealand fur seals were pre-emptively captured and held until clean-up ended.
Species affected: 
Little blue penguins, NZ dotterel, common diving petrels, white-faced storm petrels, fluttering shearwaters, Buller’s shearwaters, pied cormorant, mottled petrels, blue petrels, Antarctic prions
Total estimate of oiled birds: 
Number of birds released: 
Number of birds into intake: 
International support: 

International BIrd Rescue assisted in the wildlife response.

In January 2012 the New Zealand government approved funding for ongoing post-spill impact assessment.

As of one year post-spill, more than three-quarters of the 60 endangered New Zealand dotterel which were pre-emptively captured were still alive. Most were paired and breeding, according to Dr. John Dowding who has been monitoring the birds since their release.  Longer term monitoring is planned but the initial results show the potential value of pre-emptive capture, particularly for endangered species such as the dotterel which are long lived (up to 30 years) and have strong site-fidelity (return to the same nesting site every year).

On 5 October 2011, the MV Rena ran aground on Otaiti, 12 nautica miles from the Bay of Plenty Coast. In addition to the oil spilled, the ship's cargo included dangerous goods e.g. Tributyltin or TBT (a marine anti-fouling paint banned in much of Europe on small vessels) and Trichoroisocynoic acid or TCCA (a pool disinfectant which is 90% chlorine), among others.



Two papers are published on wildlife affected by the spill. One covers the efforts to protect endangered New Zealand dotterels, who have recovered to pre-spill population size in the spill affected zone, and the other discusses littel blue penguin behaviour post release, which compared favourably to that of unoiled penguins. See Publications and Links below.

As of November 2013, ongoing monitoring has found more than three-fourths of the dotterels that were pre-emptively captured still alive and numbers of birds at the most critical nesting sites are at or near pre-Rena levels. Many of the little blue penguins, released after cleaning and rehabilitation, are also surviving and some have bred this past season. The penguins will continue to be monitored over the 2014 breeding season to determine whether there are any longer term effects of oil exposure.

Amount and type of oiled spilled: 
300 tonnes of oil
Wildlife Response: 

36 wildlife centres/organisations participated in rescue and rehabilitation. 375 of the 400 oiled birds brought into care were released.

Publications and links: 

The Rena Project

Chilvers, BL, et al. 2015. Diving behavior of wildlife impacted by an oil spill: A clean-up and rehabilitation success?. Marine Pollution Bulletin. (in press). doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.09.019. Accessed online November 2015

Gartrell, BD, et al. 2013. Captive husbandry and veterinary care of northern New Zealand dotterels (Charadrius obscurus aquilonius) during the CV Rena oil-spill response. Wildlife Research. (40) 624-632. doi.org/10.1071/WR13120. Accessed online November 2015