MV Treasure
Photo Credit: IFAW / Jon Hrusa

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the MV Treasure oil spill that decimated the Cape Town coastline, making history in the process.


Cape Town, South Africa (24 June 2020) – I can remember this event, clear as day! Growing up in Blouberg, this happened right on our doorstep. I was nine-years-old at the time, and we all got in the car and drove down to the beach to see the ship.

I can remember our school did a donation drive to collect old towels and more to assist The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). The 23rd of June 2020 is the 20th anniversary since the MV Treasure sank off the coast of Cape Town. The ship sank between the Dassen and Robben Islands.

The sinking triggered one of the biggest oil spills the Western Cape had ever seen! Over “19,000 African penguins and hundreds of other seabirds were oiled, and a further 19,500 penguins were captured and translocated to the Eastern Cape, while the oil was cleaned by Bio-Matrix. This event is still the biggest animal rescue operation in world history today!”

SANCCOB commemorated the day by hosting a webinar where they shared stories of the event, volunteer experiences and any memories from the public. They have asked anyone with photos and memories, to please submit their stories via this link.

“2020 marks the 20th year since this event, which is still recorded as the biggest animal rescue operation in the world. The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) worked together with an international team, including governmental and conservation authorities, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), International Bird Rescue and thousands of animal professionals and volunteers from all around the world, to rescue and rehabilitate the endangered birds and save the species from further decline. The rehabilitation operation spanned over three months, where local and international teams of experts supervised over 45,000 volunteers.”

Looking back at it, I can remember being this child that was distraught at the sight of the suffering birds and penguins. The memory has been revived in me, and I sincerely hope to never see this type of environmental destruction again!

This spill brought Capetonians together; thousands of hands were needed to rescue the birds. Do you have any memories of the MV Treasure Spill?

Sources: SANCCOB
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Tyler Leigh Vivier
About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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