Knit a Sweater, Save a Penguin
* by Cathryn Wellner
Pick up your needles, knitters. New Zealand’ s Little Blue penguin
sweaters. They are victims of the heavy fuel oil leaking from the Rena, which went aground October 5th on a reef off the North Island of New Zealand.
About 350 tons of oil have washed ashore on the pristine beaches near Tauranga. Over 1300 sea birds have already died.
As of this writing, some 1,400 tons of heavy fuel oil are still on the ship. Rough seas continue to hamper the salvage efforts.
Among the victims are New Zealand’s Little Blue penguins. When they come ashore covered with oil, they need sweaters immediately. When they try to clean their feathers,
they ingest toxic oil.
The knitted coverings keep them from preening until they can be cleaned.
So Skeinz, a yarn store in New Zealand, has put out a call to knit sweaters for the birds Australians call “fairy penguins.” The instructions are online, as well as the address for sending the penguin sweaters (called “jumpers” in the southern hemisp here)
. You can check out a photo of the winsome creatures in
their sweaters here.
When a spill off Tasmania threatened penguins a decade ago, the call to knitters brought in 15,000 tiny sweaters. Those not needed immediately were stored in Oil Spill Response Kits around the island.
Penguin sweaters are already pouring into Skeinz.
The shop will likely find itself with a surplus, just as T
asmania did, but oil spills are a long way from becoming a thing of the past. So for now, birds are going to keep needing our efforts to salvage at least some of them from our destruction of the planetary nest we share.