Archive: The "Treasure" Oil Spill, June 2000

SAPmap: Further Travels of Peter & Pamela


   Satellite tracking African Penguins at sea

    Lots more information about the Treasure oil spill


(Note: this is quite a large file: 474 Kb, download time: approx. 3 minutes at 28 kbs)



Peter & Pamela's maps show the fixes after they reached their islands and set off traveling again.

Latest fix for Pamela 33.434S, 18.074E, 9/5/00, 21:31 GMT
Latest fix for Peter 33.793S, 18.373E, 9/5/00, 17:32 GMT
Peter and Pamela are back on their respectives homes, Robben and Dassen Island respectively.


Final progress report written on 25 July at 1610 (SA time)

Pam was seen last night on the beach at West Bay, Dassen Island, by staff of Western Cape Nature Conservation Board (identified from the uniquely numbered flipper band that she is wearing). She also transmitted signals to the satellite from the vicinity of West Bay. The second of the three birds to be equipped with transmitters, she is the last home but the first to be sighted.

Percy, the other bird from Dassen Island, also transmitted signals from Dassen Island last night and appears to be located on Boom Point, the northwestern "arm" of Dassen Island.

Peter, first to be released in Port Elizabeth, and first to arrive home (at Robben Island) has left Robben Island and is now foraging in the vicinity of Dassen Island and Yzerfontein, which means that all three instrumented penguins are in close proximity to each other.

This probably means that when Peter returned home he did not find any surviving chicks, and perhaps not his mate either. If he had chicks at the time of his capture, we hope that they were among those caught for artificial rearing. Some artificially-reared chicks were released at Robben Island last Friday and more today. More still are being flown back from Durban this evening and tomorrow, because they also are ready for release. Unlike 20 000 adults, who were trucked to Port Elizabeth and swam back, these chicks will have undertaken a return flight from Cape Town to Durban, courtesy South African Airways.

If Peter is missing his mate, perhaps she was among the adults released at Robben Island today, and not among the 1000 birds that have died as a result of oiling. African Penguins show strong fidelity to their mates, but if their mate dies they often find new partners.


Prefinal Progress report written on 25 July at 1430 (SA time)


Pamela is also home! Our first satellite fix on her from Dassen Island was at 0027 today, 25 July 2000.

It has taken her 22 days since she left Port Elizabeth on Monday 3 July, and 23 days after she left Dassen Island on Sunday 2 July.

Pamela travelled overnight to Port Elizabeth in a box next to the driver of a three tier sheep truck. Behind her on the truck and its trailer were a few thousand penguins, three to a box, in three layers. They were taken to Port Elizabeth because the sea around Dassen Island was full of oil, and this overland journey prevented them from joining 23 000 oiled penguins in SANCCOB's care. In a three-day operation, nearly 13 000 penguins were moved from Dassen Island to Port Elizabeth, and a further 7 000 were transported there from Robben Island. Most of the 20 000 penguins who made the journey appear to be back on their islands. The Treasure has now been declared oil-free, and the risk of oiling has decreased to about normal level; in "normal" years with no major oil incidents, about 1000 penguins are admitted to SANCCOB. All in all, the preliminary evaluation of this relocation strategy has to be: ITS SUCCESS EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS.

Peter and Percy have not yet been located. We will provide daily updates on progress made in the search for them.

Now that this part of the penguin saga has drawn to a close, please take a few minutes to browse around the rest of this website, and especially take a look at all the other Treasure stories. The stories of Pieter the penguin (after whom our Peter was named!), originally published in the Animal Demography Unit's newsletter Bird Numbers, are also on the website.


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First home fix for Peter: 2000-07-18 02:56 GMT 33.806S 18.366E
First home fix for Percy: 2000-07-20 18:31 GMT 33.419S 18.082E
First home fix for Pamela: 2000-07-25 22:27 GMT 33.423E 18.091E

Technical information about the transmitters & GIS map with actual fixes