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South Atlantic Oil Spill Endangers Local Wildlife

23 Mar 2011  |   Daniel Jacobs

In the early morning of March 16th, the M.S. Olivia, a cargo ship loaded with oil, ran aground in the South Atlantic Ocean near the remote Tristan da Cunha island chain.

Breaking in half, the ship leaked over 800 tons of oil into the waters of the surrounding archipelago.

The oil slick engulfing the islands has greatly endangered indigenous wildlife, especially the 200,000 penguins inhabiting the area. Of particular concern are the island's endangered northern rockhopper penguins, which account for half of that species' world population.

According to the International Bird Rescue Research Center, an estimated 20,000 penguins have been exposed to the spilt oil. Moreover, the remoteness of the threatened island chain ??? located 1,700 miles from its closest neighbor of South Africa ??? has delayed efforts to respond to the calamity.

The incident underscores the threat that nations' dependence on oil poses to our wildlife and ecosystems.

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