The weblog of a traveller

   Aug 22

Report from Full City

The South Norwegian coastline is one of the most wondrous places I know. The latest Ice Age did a good job on it, neatly polishing the bedrock into friendly rounds that get nice and warm in the sun. Due to straight-edged protectionism much of it is still public although strong financial forces call for privatization. Building regulations direct that houses be adorable (literally. In several places it is for instance specified that houses must be wooden, painted white with a red tilted roof). Forests are open with more precious species than the common spruces and pines that dominate your standard Nordic forest. Wildlife abounds.

In this paradise the Full City oil spill seems all the grosser. The ship was not an oil vessel; the 1000+ tonnes of bunker oil was the fuel only. How the sticky, thick, chewing-gum-like substance can be good as fuel is a mystery to me, and this is indeed a likely cause for the havary -using such yucky fuel, it takes a loong time for an engine to pick up speed. Turning off the engines in narrow waters with a sucky forecast then seems like a very bad idea. A call for a ban of bunker oil as fuel must be in order. If Iceland, very possibly the most shipping-dependent nation in the world, can ban bunker oil in their waters, it must be doable here as well. Anyhow, the skerries are asfalted now.

So in this situation, when WWF called for volunteer diggers I did not feel I had much choice but going.

Map of the area:

Purple mark: Langesund town, the headquarters and birds’ hospital.

Red mark: Frøholmen, a birds’ reserve that was hit badly and mostly all over.

Pink mark: Jomfruland, also with birds’ reserves, was hit by one splosh of several tonnes close to the south peak.

The ship crashed outside Brevikstranda. Between the wreck and Stråholmen there is a half hour in a fast boat, little islets all along the way.

A grinning monument of one of the dangers of the oil industry.

I am sad to say I saw more dead than live birds in the reserves. Damaged birds were taken to an ad-hoc birds’ hospital, which aroused quite some controversy as many do not value birds and the hunting season starts in a few months’ time anyway. For my own part, I can not see many better uses for the money this nation has gotten from oil.

Eider duck, poisoned or frozen to death

Recovering falcon

The birds’ reserves at Stråholmen and Jomfruland were cleaned first as they are resting spots on the trekking route for certain birds and the trekking season was about to begin.

Seals. Although naturally dark and spotty, the young one in the middle is oily. I hope it will be fine.


The people living here are so proud of their area. Even the janitor who was understandably not happy about being ordered to install me in my accommodation when I arrived late Sunday evening, explained cheerfully what sites I just had to see while I was there.

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