Oiled seabird in washing cage

Oiled seabird in washing cage

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Credit: DELPHINE AURES/EURELIOS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Oiled seabird in washing cage. Guillemot (Uria aalge) being cleaned at an animal rescue centre after an oil spill. Seabirds covered in oil will die from hypothermia as the oil destroys their waterproofing, and from poisoning as they attempt to groom their feathers. This is the ELF machine, developed in 1995 by various research groups in Nantes, France, where this bird is being cleaned. The bird is placed in the cage and secured by its feet and neck. The cage is placed in a washing machine, keeping the head clear while the body and wings are sprayed with jets of warm, soapy water and rinsed clean. This bird was rescued following the wreck of the oil tanker Erika in 1999 off the coast of Brittany, France.

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