Cabo Virgenes Mystery Spill

Source of pollution: 
oil platform/installation
Animals affected

Ruoppolo, V. et al. 2007. Cabo Virgenes Mystery Spill: Challenges and Lessons Learned. Effects of Oil on Wildlife Conference Proceedings

Number of live oiled birds counted: 
More than 1200 penguins oiled
Species affected: 
Magellanic and rockhopper penguin
Total estimate of oiled birds: 
Number of birds released: 
Number of birds into intake: 
International support: 

 IFAW personnel from Brazil and Argentina assisted with the response, at the request of CAP and FPN)

The extreme weather in Rio Gallegos, where facilities, and access to heat and warm water,were limited delayed the progress of birds in care. The possibility of successful transfer to the permanent facility resulted in quicker recovery for the birds, thus, options for moving birds to better conditions could be considered in future incidents.

During the incident birds washed onshore in both Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia, thus an offshore source was most likely. Whether this was an offshore platform incident or that of illegal discharge by a ship is not known.

Amount and type of oiled spilled: 
Wildlife Response: 

 Staff from Consejo Agrario Provincial de Santa Cruz (CAP) initiated capture and stabilisation response and, in conjunction with Fudacion Patagonia Natural (FPN) requested assistance from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) personnel in Brazil and Argentina. A temporary facility was set up in Rio Gallegos, however, after six weeks, during which extreme cold weather and low water temperatures, recovery was very slow and the government of Santa Cruz took the decision to move 195 of the birds to the Fundacion Mundo Marino (FMM)'s permanent facility in San Clemente del Tuyu. Transport was provided by the Fuerza Aerea Argentina (Argentine Air Force). Birds were released in July and August, with a 61% success rate, based on survival to release.