'Happy Feet' penguins found covered in oil...

A wrecked ship has grounded on Nightingale Island, part of the Tristan da Cunha UK overseas territory in the South Atlantic, causing an oil slick around the island which is home to nearly half the world's population of northern rockhopper penguins.

Hundreds of rockhopper penguins, made famous by the character of Lovelace in the film "Happy Feet", have been coming ashore covered in oil. Many are so badly oiled it is impossible to see the trademark black and yellow feathered crest.

Some 1,500 tonnes of heavy crude oil from the MS Olivia, which was shipping soya beans between Rio de Janeiro and Singapore, is leaking into the sea.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said the oil now surrounds Nightingale Island and extends into a slick eight miles offshore, threatening the endangered penguins and the economically important rock lobster fishery.

The shipwreck could also lead to any rats on-board colonising the island and posing a huge risk to the native seabird populations – whose chicks and eggs could be eaten by the invasive rodents.

(Source: The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk)