Rena update (update 96)

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Rena update (update 96)

15 November 2011: 11.30am

Birds affected by the Rena grounding will not be released from Te Maunga Wildlife Centre until their habitats are cleaned and their feathers are waterproof, says the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team.

A total of 408 birds are currently being cared for at the centre and are faring well in waterproof testing, but Wildlife Centre manager Dr Brett Gartrell says none will be released until habitats are cleaned to an appropriate level.

“At this stage we have around 40 staff caring for the birds at the Wildlife Centre and another 25 out in the field. We are currently assessing birds’ waterproofing and most are doing very well in this regard,” Dr Gartrell said.

“We will stay at the Centre for as long as it takes and at this stage we are planning for another one to two months. The bottom line is that we will not be releasing any birds into oiled habitats,” he said.

Waterproof testing involves observing birds in a water tank over a six-hour period and is important in ensuring birds have healthy plumage to keep cold water away from their skin. This enables them to maintain healthy body temperatures.

Meanwhile, out at the Rena, crane testing is under way aboard the crane barge Sea Tow 60 (ST60) as salvors prepare to remove containers from the grounded vessel.

MNZ Salvage Unit Manager Kenny Crawford said the removal would be “slow going”, but said salvors would be doing all they could to remove the containers as quickly and safely as possible.

“Salvors will continue to trial systems as they go, but even in the calmest of conditions this is no easy task. Naval architects are also working with teams on the ST60 to determine the best removal method,” he said.

“Operations to strip any residual oil from the Rena will also continue and teams would remain ready to respond should any of the remaining oil wash up onshore.”

National On Scene Commander Mick Courtnell thanked all the volunteers who had contributed to the Rena response to date. “Volunteers have contributed over 16,000 hours of help, allowing the operation to reach a stage where machines can now take over – that’s a fantastic effort.”

“The response team also would like to thank the 159 corporate organisations who put forward generous offers of assistance, offering up another 4,900 more volunteers. Although not all of these offers could be taken up, there is an opportunity for people to still contribute through the ‘Adopt a Beach’ programme initiated by the local community.”

Adopt-a-beach programmes will be running at Pilot Bay, Omanu, Mt Maunganui, Tay St, Arataki and Papamoa East. Anyone requiring more information should contact

Mr Courtnell said an announcement lifting beach access restrictions would be made later today.

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