Investigation into the feasibility of applying magnetic particle technology to the cleansing of oiled wildlife in the field.
The application of magnetic particle technology to environmental remediation and wildlife rehabilitation has been under investigation at Victoria University (VU) for a number of years. In collaboration with the Phillip Island Nature Park Research Department, this investigation has been the subject of a number of peer-reviewed journal articles.
Participants at the second National Plan Oiled Wildlife Workshop in 2004 and at the Environmental and Scientific Coordinators Workshop in 2005 recommended that the National Plan develop a research project to build upon the previous work of VU and consider the feasibility of application in the field.
In addition to National Plan funding, Phillip Island Nature Park contributed additional financial assistance and support for this project.
We contracted VU to undertake the project and manage the contribution of Phillip Island Nature Park. Research was carried out in 2006-07.
The outcome of this project is a basic evaluation of magnetic cleansing compared to conventional detergent-based methods, including benefits to oiled wildlife, particularly with regard to oil removal, handling time (and therefore stress), cost of materials and recycling of iron powder.
Limited time and resources unfortunately precluded full replication of some experiments, particularly those using bunker oils and also benchmarking against detergent-based cleansing. Some aspects would benefit from additional experimental control, including detergent benchmarking and iron powder recycling. Further work is also required to demonstrate the practicality of deploying the technique in the field and to fully consider issues of animal welfare. If you are interested in further research we encourage you to contact the report's authors at VU where work is ongoing.