Oiled bird strandings are increasing on the Brittany coast

Oiled bird strandings are increasing on the Brittany coast

Violet Field inPlanetJan 23, 2021 3 min read1 views

The Vigipol union blames the wreck of the Tanio, an oil tanker that sank in March 1980 off the coast of Finistère

Birds soiled with oil were discovered in the town of Plougasnou, in Finistère. The pollution still comes from the Tanio tanker, sunk in 1980. - Mairie Plougasnou
  • Since mid-October, 140 oiled birds have stranded on the Brittany coast.
  • The Vigipol union blames the wreck of the Tanio, an oil tanker that sank in March 1980 off the coast of Finistère.
  • The authorities have already carried out work to seal the leaks on the wreckage.

More than forty years after its sinking, the wreckage of the Tanio continues to kill. Since mid-October, 141 oiled birds have been stranded on the Brittany coast according to Vigipol's macabre count. The mixed protection association calls into question the oil tanker flying the Madagascan flag which sank off Finistère in March 1980. "Like last year, the analyzes carried out by Cedre identified the wreck of the Tanio as the cause of this pollution", says Vigipol.

The Vigipol union has listed all the strandings of oiled birds since mid-October on the Breton coast. - Vigipol

Solicited, the Maritime Prefecture of the Atlantic assured in a press release "to study the possible modes of action following the resumption of this residual pollution", adding to have deployed at the beginning of January a remote-controlled submarine in order to "control the condition of the wreck ”. "This operation allowed us to observe that three of the ten plates installed in September 2020 to plug hull openings have since been torn off by fishing gear and that one of the openings shows a new intermittent hydrocarbon leak," indicates she does.

Work already carried out to stop the leaks of the wreck

In November 2019, dozens of injured or dead birds, some of which bore traces of oil, had already been found on the beaches of northern Finistère. Investigations had revealed leaks on the hull of the Tanio, which lies 80 meters deep, and analyzes of samples taken from the birds had shown similarities with the heavy fuel oil of the tanker. The French Navy intervened in September 2020 to stop these leaks.

"However, these operations will not have been sufficient since barely a month and a half later, new seabirds are contaminated by oil from the Tanio ", notes Vigipol in its press release, stressing that the number of oiled birds reported since October is "already nearly double last year" and the stranding area "much larger".


Nearly 70% of the birds recorded are Common Guillemots, which specifies the mixed union created following the Amoco Cadiz oil spill in 1978.