World experts team up to prepare for oil spill response


A little blue penguin being washed after the Rena oil spill


Representatives from regional councils across New Zealand are now wiser when it comes to dealing with wildlife affected by  oil, thanks to a training and preparation workshop run by Massey University’s Wildbase oiled wildlife response team.

Representatives from regional councils across New Zealand are now wiser when it comes to dealing with wildlife affected by oil, thanks to a training and preparation workshop run by Massey University’s Wildbase oiled wildlife response team.

The workshop was run in conjunction with Maritime New Zealand, Marine Pollution Response Service with a guest speaker from the University of California Davis – who Massey University has recently partnered with to develop international oiled wildlife response training.

More than 26 council members from Northland to Southland attended the two-day workshop held on the Manawatū campus this week. It included discussions about improving response planning, putting together an action plan, handling birds and dealing with all aspects of an oiled wildlife response.

Of particular note was a presentation from Dr Mike Ziccardi, director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network run out of the veterinary school at the University of California Davis.

Lessons from the Gulf of Mexico

Dr Ziccardi provided an international perspective on marine mammal and turtle care as well as sharing what his team learned from leading the marine mammals and turtle response after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

He said preparation before a disaster occurs is key – something he says the Massey University team are doing well.

“The planning and organisation prior to an event ultimately makes a response much more effective. Spending the time to develop the relationships and develop the systems.”

He said Massey University and University of California Davis are the only two organisations in the world to have plans in place to prepare and train people for a response.

“There are a lot of similarities between Massey’s oiled wildlife response programme and the one we developed in the States. There’s an evolving relationship between the universities and it’s great to be able to have two strong teams working together using a science-based approach.”

Senior research officer for the Wildbase Oiled Wildlife Response Team Dr Louise Chilvers said “It’s fantastic having Mike here. He’s the world expert on oiled wildlife, particularly marine mammals. We’re always looking to work closer with them.”

“They’ve recently been rated the number one veterinary school in the world and we’re rated second in the southern hemisphere so it’s really good for two universities to be working together and developing research lead training.”

Related articles

Rena rehabilitation effective long-term
Oiled wildlife response expertise goes to Brunei
Oiled wildlife response to go international
Wildbase receives award for conservation work

More related articles

Massey Contact Centre Mon - Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 contact@massey.ac.nz Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey