Retrieve, Restore, Release


We have just be advised that NO PROSECUTIONS will be brought regarding the Polyisobutene pollution incident.

Apparently the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have been unable to find the culprit.

Therefore, the victims (thousands of seabirds) will not have justice, and the polluter will go unpunished.


On the 29th of January the first 'sticky' bird (guillemot) arrived.   It was found at Coryton Cove, Dawlish, Devon and rescued by a kindly dog walker.

Since that time many more auks, mostly guillemots have been retrieved from beaches all along the south coast of England.

No one has been able, as yet (1st February) to identify the substance that coats these birds and is causing such distress.   We have given a small feather sample to a representative from the Environment Agency who handed it in to their laboratory for analysis.

Hopefully we shall learn soon what this sticky substance is, and this will help us to decide how best to clean the birds. 

Also, until we know what it is, we are advising people to be cautious about handling any birds they find.  It is most adviseable to wear gloves.

We are always prepared to accept any pelagic seabird casualties into our care, whatever their condition.

Latest news - 9th February.

All the birds have had one wash, but the sticky substance (now identified at POLYISOBUTENE) refuses to move completely.

During the washing process we were able to scrape the stuff from the birds' tails with our finger nails.    The tails of some of the birds were like beaver tails.   Also some birds had so much on their wings that they stuck to their bodies.

Most of the birds are in breeding plumage, so would be heading towards their colonies.  The birds pictured have had a wash but will require further treatment. 

They were washed just 3 at a time, the first 3 are pictured standing in front of the fan heater in the drying cage, they are feeling a little better after some of the stuff was removed.

News as at 20th February

The birds are progressing well, some more quickly than others and these will be released in about 2 weeks time. Some of the guillemots are pictured below.

And there is even time to play - pictured below - guillemot with fish in its beak that it has been carrying around for a while whilst enticing others to chase it.

MARCH 1ST 2013

The first batch of guillemots are ready for release.  Pictured are some to be included in the first release.


We regret to say that a second wave of birds coated with polyisobutene started to arrive on the 9th of April.   To date (16th April) we have admitted 12 guillemots which have been affected by this latest disaster.

The first disaster brought birds mainly onto the Dorset coast, this time Cornwall has taken the brunt of this latest incident.    The first guillemot admitted to this Trust came from Seaton beach in Cornwall.   We hoped it was a one-off, but at the present date approximately 400 have been reported washed up dead on beaches of south east Cornwall, plus another 100 or so that have been picked up alive.

To say this is heart breaking is an understatement.   The last batch of our birds from the previous incident were only released on the 5th of April.    We can only hope that, because they were released off the south Devon coast, they may have kept clear of this awful second wave of mindless vandalism.   If this happened on land all hell would break loose, but no one seems to care about what happens at sea.