The Icelandic authorities are investigating after dozens of birds covered in oil were washed up on the shore and died after swallowing the oil as they tried to clean themselves.
The mysterious incident occurred when numerous dead birds were found in the Stafnes area of the island of Heimaey in Iceland by members of the South Iceland Nature Research Centre.
Local media report that 14 of the dead birds, which included common eiders, common murres (guillemots), and razorbills, were covered in oil, believed to be fuel oil. A photo shows the dead birds covered in oil on the ground.
The Director of centre Erpur Snae Jonsson said samples of the oil will be sent to Norway to be analysed, but tests so far indicate the oil on the birds found on Reynisfjara beach on Iceland’s South Coast showed it was of a type only used by cargo ships in Iceland.
Jonsson said: “This pollution appears to be ongoing. The birds seem to be exposed to the fuel oil on the open sea. They make it to land, drenched in fuel oil, and try to clean themselves by eating up the oil. Then they suffer a painful death.”
One theory is that the oil is leaking from a shipwreck to the east of the Vestmannaeyjar islands which Heimaey belongs to, whilst others believe it may have come disused pipes.
The investigation into the origin of the oil is ongoing.
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