When an ocean-going tanker goes down at the sea, loosing crude oil into the ocean, the immediate and long-term effects on the environment are often catastrophic. Equally as dangerous is the illegal practice of passing ships’ dumping fuel oil into the water rather than properly disposing of it in port. In the case of the “little penguins”, such accidents and illegal activities have threatened the entire population of penguins. So the idea of oenguin sweaters has jumped into for the Phillip Island Nature Park. Penguin sweaters, also known as penguin jumpers, are sweaters which are knitted for penguins that have been caught in oil slicks. When oil spill, it affects penguins, they are dressed in knitted sweaters to stop them preening their feathers and to keep them warm, since the spilled oil destroys their natural oils. Knitted penguin jumpers play an important role in saving little penguins affected by oil pollution. A patch of oil, the size of a thumbnail can kill a little penguin. Oiled penguins often die from exposure and starvation. Oil separates and mats feathers, allowing water to get in which makes a penguin very cold, heavy and less able to successfully hunt for food.
Cleaning the animals by hand with warm water and a mild detergent then returning them to their natural habitat has been found to be an effective means of dealing with the danger posed by oil spills, but there’s a snag in the plan: Often the little penguins are far too ill to be bathed right away, and the scrubbing can be quite stressful. When oiled penguins are admitted to the Wildlife Clinic at Phillip Island Nature Parks, a knitted jumper is placed on the penguins to prevent them from preening and swallowing the toxic oil before they are washed and the oil removed by staff.