I'm glad someone picked me up: Penguin gets his feathers cleaned but New Zealand's worst-ever environmental disaster deepens and ship's captain is arr


I'm all white: One of the rescued oil-coated penguins recuperates at a wildlife centre in Tauranga but the situation is worsening as bad weather batters the stricken tanker

This penguin is lucky enough to be able to see his white feathers again after being caught in the slick of New Zealand's worst-ever environmental disaster but many more will not be so fortunate as the crisis deepens.

This bird was cleaned up at the wildlife centre in Tauranga where up to 350 more tonnes of oil has been spilled from the 'Rena' tanker, which lies stricken off the coast.

But clumps of heavy oil from the Liberia-flagged Rena have washed up on pristine beaches near Tauranga in the North Island, and environmental officials said 53 birds were found dead and 17 were getting emergency treatment to remove oil from their feathers.

Before and after: Left, the rescued penguin gets a thorough scrubbing after being plucked from the oily waters, and right, he shows off his two-tone feathers once again

'This event has come to a scale where it is New Zealand's most significant environmental maritime disaster,' Environment Minister Nick Smith told reporters in Tauranga, adding that the clean-up would take weeks.

However, the situation is worsening. Rough weather battered the cargo ship throughout Tuesday before about 70 containers fell overboard, forcing the ship onto a steeper lean.

And in another development, the captain of the ship Rena was arrested and will appear in court Wednesday morning, facing charges under New Zealand's Maritime Act.

The Liberian-flagged boat ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef near New Zealand's Tauranga Harbour last Wednesday

Oil from the stricken ship, MV Rena, has begun washing up on Mount Manguanui beach on the North Island of New Zealand

The ship has been sinking since it ran aground last Wednesday on the Astrolabe Reef, about 14 miles (22 kilometers) from Tauranga Harbour, and the New Zealand government has demanded to know why the ship crashed into the well-charted reef in calm weather.

The ship owner has given no reason for the grounding, but says it is cooperating with authorities.

Rough weather in recent days has kept salvage crews away.

Rough conditions: Heavy seas and misty weather surround the cargo ship Rena that is stuck on the Astrolabe Reef, about 14 miles (22 kilometers) from Tauranga

On Monday night, the 775-foot (236-meter) ship shifted significantly, spilling hundreds of tons of oil from an unidentified rupture in the hull, said Nick Bohm, a spokesman for Maritime New Zealand which is managing the emergency response.

Clean-up: Volunteers take an oiled little blue penguin out of the pool after the recovering session at the wildlife facility in Tauranga

A clean-up crew dispose of oil washed ashore from the stricken ship - but plans to extract the oil from the vessel itself have been abandoned for the time as the weather is expected to be terrible

About 200 people are working on the operation, and New Zealand's defence force has about 300 people standing by in case major beach clean-ups are needed.

Oil from a stranded container ship began washing up on the shore of New Zealand's pristine Bay of Plenty, forcing beach closures at the popular tourist spot

A shag covered in oil is helped by wildlife veterinarian Dr Brett Gartrell and Aimee Forster at the wildlife rehabilitation facility in Tauranga, New Zealand

Devastation to wildlife: Environmental officials said 53 birds were found dead and 17 were getting emergency treatment to remove oil from their feathers

source: dailymail