MORE than 50 guillemots covered in oil have been washed up in waters off the west coast of the island.
The birds have been rescued by the Manx Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) since the weekend.
During Saturday and Sunday the charity was called out to numerous emergency calls in Port Erin and Peel, where the staff used nets to collect the oil-covered birds.
Staff have been working hard to clean and feed the stricken animals before they can release them back into the wild.
The birds are a species normally found either well offshore or nesting on cliffs during the summer months.
Jenny Corrin, from the MSPCA, said: ‘Many of the birds were covered in oil and they were preening themselves, so the oil was going right through them.
‘We are worried about which ones we will manage to save and which ones we are going to lose.
‘We’ve washed the birds in warm water with detergent, rinsed them, dried them and put them under the heat lamp.’
Jenny said that at present it was unclear where the oil was coming from – but she stated that they believe it was moving as the guillemots were being rescued from places including Scarlett beach.
Peter Jenkins, from Port Erin, spotted three birds washed up in the area.
He said: ‘I was driving past and was surprised because initially I thought they were penguins. They were white and covered in black and they were standing upright. There was a lot of interest in them from locals.
‘I noticed a lot of oil on them – their stomachs were full of oil and the birds were pecking at it.’
Despite the emergency call outs the MSPCA workers found 10 dead birds and seven later died at the charity’s headquarters in Foxdale.
The Isle of Man director of harbours, Captain Michael Brew, said he had contacted colleagues in Liverpool and they have had no reports how the oil may have come to be in the Irish Sea.