THE HILLSWICK Wildlife Sanctuary is marking 30 years of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing seals and otters back into the wild and launching a bid to secure its long-term future.
The sanctuary, run by Jan and Pete Bevington, has been offered an “amazing opportunity” after the local oil industry and Shetland Islands Council pledged up to £300,000 to refurbish, renovate and “future proof” the sanctuary for the next three decades.
But the investment depends on the sanctuary being able to prove that it can stand on its own two feet financially.
Built on “a foundation of love and sheer hard work”, the sanctuary has survived until now on a shoestring budget.
It is now looking for 500 people willing to pledge £5 a month, providing a regular income to cover day-to-day running costs.
The sanctuary is run by Pete and Jan Bevington having been established by Jan back in May 1987.
If they are successful the refurbishment funds will be released – providing Shetland’s seals and otters with a safe haven for years to come.
“The facilities at Hillswick are desperate to be refurbished,” Jan and Pete said. “Over the last three years we have managed to persuade the oil industry and the council that we are worth investing in as part of Shetland’s oil spill response plan for wildlife.
“However before they can invest such a large sum of money, they need reassurance that the sanctuary can sustain itself into the future.
“This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss, so we’re reaching out to our thousands of friends and followers in Shetland and around the world for help. If ever we needed your support, it’s now.”
SOTEAG welcomes its new seabird monitor, Will Miles. Will Miles will be shadowing SOTEAG’s current seabird monitor Martin Heubeck for 1 year. Following this crucial hand over Will Miles will become the sole seabird monitor and Martin will retire after 40 years of service.
Will has a strong interest in seabird science and for the last 10 years has worked on seabirds in Shetland, the Outer Hebrides, Ascension Island and the Falklands. Will has a PhD in seabird ecology, for which his study site was St Kilda. Latterly, Will led the seabird monitoring programme on Fair isle, followed by a research post at Aberdeen University specialising in seabird and migration ecology. Will is extremely happy to be joining SOTEAG as Seabird Monitor and is looking forward to the beginning of the 2017 seabird breeding season and working alongside Martin Heubeck and Mick Mellor.
To read the most recent seabird monitoring report please follow this link
A SOTEAG special. This year, 2017, marks the 40th anniversary of the Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group which has helped keep the islands’ clean and relatively uncontaminated despite being a major UK hub for the offshore oil and gas industry. This is a special programme to mark that anniversary.
To listen to the ‘SOTEAG special’ click here
The revamped Sumburgh Airport was officially opened yesterday by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.
Work at the Shetland airport has been carried out over the last three years and has includes larger security screening areas and upgrades to the main departure lounge.
The first phase of investment by operator Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial) involved major improvements to the hangars used by the energy sector and a new new lounge specifically for offshore workers.
The airport is used as a base for oil and gas industry as well as public flights to the Scottish mainland, Orkney and Norway.
The second – and recently completed – phase caters for scheduled passengers, with improved check-in, security and baggage reclaim facilities and refurbishments to the terminal concourse.
The international and oil related passenger arrivals and offshore transit lounge have also been refurbished.
Improvements have also been made to the airport fire station and air traffic control tower.
Hial chairman Mike Cantlay, said: “Sumburgh Airport is a vital part of the oil and gas industry’s logistics network and is well placed to benefit from continued activity both to the west and east of Shetland that will see a significant upturn in both rotary and fixed wing oil charter activity.” Continue reading
The 2016 update for the Sullom Voe and Yell Sound oil spill sensitivity maps is complete. There have been a number of updates and improvements to the maps, and the maps themselves now cover Shetland and not just Sullom Voe and Yell Sound.
It became apparent that the excellent coverage provided by the Sullom and Yell Sound maps should be extended to include the whole of Shetland. Oil spill contingency planning is an important function of SOTEAG, and these maps are vital for the planning of an effective oiled wildlife response in Shetland.
These maps provide an effective visualisation of a wide array of data available, highlighting areas that are environmentally sensitive in the event of an oil spill and how best to protect them.
If you wish to download the maps please click on this link and follow the instructions on the web page. The maps are available in three formats – PDF, GIS and Google Earth. Anyone using these maps must sign the user agreement first, stating that they are not using these maps for commercial purposes. We hope that you will find them useful.
Production has restarted from a BP platform off Shetland from which oil leaked earlier this month.
An estimated 95 tonnes of oil was released into the water from the Clair platform.
BP said: “Clair was taken offline following a technical issue with the system that separates water, oil and gas.
“Our investigation into this incident is ongoing however the technical issues we encountered have been resolved.”
The Clair platform is 75km (46 miles) west of Shetland. It was shut down after the leak.
MSPs were previously told it is “lucky” that more serious damage had not been done to the environment. Continue reading
BP has shut down one of its oil platforms, about 75km to the west of Shetland, because of a leak.
Oil was released into the water from the Clair platform on Sunday morning.
The size of the leak is unclear, and efforts are under way to ascertain whether it has caused damage to the environment.
BP said it was caused by a “technical issue” and an investigation into what happened was under way.
No-one was injured. It was not clear how long the platform would remain shut down.
A BP spokesman said: “The Clair platform, which is located 75km (46 miles) west of Shetland, has been shut down and the release has been stopped. All personnel have been accounted for and there are no injuries.
“We are investigating the cause of the technical issue and monitoring the situation. All relevant authorities have been informed.” Continue reading
The SOTEAG (Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group) is seeking to employ a Seabird Monitor who will be responsible for the delivery of an annual, year round and Shetland-wide seabird monitoring programme. We seek individuals who would relish the opportunity to work in Shetland and continue one of the longest running seabird monitoring programmes.
Scientists at Heriot-Watt University have cracked the genetic code of the marine bacteria that helped ‘eat’ the oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, information that could aid clean-up efforts for the next major spill.
Dr Tony Gutierrez was in the US at the time of the disaster and was able to perform experiments with samples from oil-contaminated waters of the Gulf of Mexico shortly after the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred – samples that contained key species of bacteria that fed on the oil.
Experiments with the samples revealed that certain bacteria had thrived on the oil that gushed into the Gulf, by devouring the oil as a preferred food source. Continue reading
SMRU are seeking to appoint a post-doctoral research fellow for a period of one year. The successful candidate with be based in the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) within the School of Biology.
The project is funded by INSITE – the Influence of man-made Structures In the Ecosystem – an oil and gas industry-sponsored initiative committed to developing the independent scientific evidence-base needed to improve understanding of the influence of man-made structures on the ecosystem of the North Sea. Continue reading