Save Seabirds from Deadly Pollutant

Target: International Maritime Organization

Goal: Outlaw the dumping of polyisobutene, a toxic chemical that kills marine wildlife, into the sea

While oil spills might be responsible for the deaths of millions of sea creatures, oil is not the only substance that poses a threat to marine wildlife. Off the coast of Europe, a liquid called polyisobutene (PIB) has been killing thousands of birds. Ships have been dumping PIB into the ocean while they clean out their tanks–and because the chemical has a low hazard classification, this deadly form of pollution remains entirely legal.

When mixed with seawater, PIB forms a sticky adhesive that kills birds by gluing them down and preventing them from flying or feeding. Many birds starve to death when coated with the substance, while others become immobilized and drown. Marc Smith of the Dorset Wildlife Trust in the United Kingdom described his efforts to rescue birds off the southern coast of England: “It was heartbreaking seeing the birds washing up along the shore. Some were so covered in this horrible substance they were literally stuck to the beach – still alive but unable to move. Others only had a small amount on them but you could see they were in distress. Exhausted, freezing and emaciated – they were the lucky ones. For every bird rescued we knew there were many more that had perished at sea. Dead birds littered the beach. What really sticks in your throat is knowing this was preventable.”

It’s still legal and common for cargo ships to dump PIB into the sea–a practice that has already cost thousands of seabirds their lives. Now is the time to outlaw this deadly substance for the sake of marine wildlife. Urge the International Maritime Organization to change PIB’s hazard classification and make it illegal for ships to pollute the oceans with the noxious liquid.


Dear International Maritime Organization,

Despite the fact that it kills countless birds and other sea creatures, the dumping of polyisobutene (PIB) into the ocean remains a routine and legal practice. Ships discharge this liquid while cleaning out their tanks. When mixed with seawater, PIB forms an incredibly sticky adhesive that glues birds’ wings to their bodies, preventing them from flying, feeding, or even moving. Many birds starve or drown at sea, while others become stuck to the beaches they wash up on.

This horrible chemical is already responsible for the deaths of thousands of birds. I urge you to take action before thousands more are killed. Increase the hazard classification of PIB, and make it a crime for ships to discharge it into our oceans.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Sean Mack via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. We shouldnt be dumping ANYTHING into our oceans. What the hell is wrong with the govt that they continue to allow it and dont force these polluters to clean up THEIR mess? Stupid question huh? MONEY of course!

  2. Silvia Helena Camargo says:

    Os Oceanos não são latas de lixo e muito menos de lixo tóxico. Parem de sujar as águas dos Oceanos, nele habitam infinitas vidas marinhas e muitas aves se alimentam e se banham nele. Respeitem a Natureza, respeitem a Vida.

  3. Yet one more way Man has come up with, in their infinite stupidity, to destroy the environment and its inhabitants. Govenrments have to look at the Bigger Picture – which does not include their wallets – and see that the more we harm our Earth, the more the likelihood we’ll have less livable places. This includes them.

  4. It’s heartbreaking that we us the oceans as a garbage dumps. The oceans are in bad shape from all the runoff, spills and dumping and yet we continue. What we are doing to our earth we are doing to ourselves.

  5. Even urban runoff has contributed heavily to new emerging diseases in sea mammals, as toxoplasmosis from domestic cat excrement centers on urban coastal areas. I have seen far too many seals and sea lions in distress and dying on shore in the past years due to this disease – in sea mammals, it causes brain swelling sufficient to kill the animals.

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