Massacre in the Atlantic

On December 12, 1999, the ship “Erika” sank off the coast of Brittany, leaking 20,000 tons of heavy fuel oil. The whole coast of my beautiful peninsula was soiled. The air reeked of fuel oil, volunteers came from all over France and even from abroad to try to clean up our beaches and cliffs. It was like the myth of Sysiphe, we cleaned the beach and after the next tide we had to start again. We were exhausted and desperate because this huge ecological disaster killed several hundred thousand birds. And the cleaning of the rocks completely sterilised the coast, which took years to really revive.

After working on the beaches to recover oiled birds I then worked with other volunteers at the bird sorting place where an ornithologist would list them and then sort them according to “salvageable” or not It was dramatic you could only see their eyes in the black mass, the red eyes of grebes, the blue eyes of gannets.

And this was not the first “oil spill”. The polluting spills had followed one another, 1967 Torrey Canyon, 1976 Olympic Bravery and Boehlen, March 1978 Amoco Cadiz, March 1980 Tanio.
Each time tens of thousands of birds died in atrocious suffering and all the marine fauna was impacted and our coasts needed several years to regenerate. On the other hand, our economy (fishing, canneries, tourism) was partly destroyed. I will never forget….the Breton people will never forget…. And there are also the oil tankers which degas off the coast several times a year , other ships too and they make mini oil slicks which destroy our coasts regularly