The Ecological Disaster No One Is Talking About

I realize we have a lot on our worrying plates, between all the tsunamis and Qaddaffis dominating the news these days—but if I could just momentarily direct your hopelessness in the direction of the adorable, oil-soaked rockhopper penguins above, I'd be much obliged. These faces are the innocent victims of yet another disaster that unfolded Tuesday on Nightingale Island, part of a South Atlantic archipelago located halfway between Argentina and South Africa.

The M.S. Oliva, a freighter carrying 66,000 tons of soybeans from Brazil to Singapore, crashed into the island, literally snapping the vessel in half and releasing 800 tons of fuel into the fragile ecosystem that the endangered rockhoppers call home. Conservationists put the number of affected seabirds at 20,000.

And that's not even the worst of it! There's rats! Thousands of rats! They were living among the cargo and have scampered ashore, and are currently whooping it up at an all-rat luau. Those islands were completely rodent free, until now. The damage a rat infestation would do to the bird population is said to be much greater than the oil spill itself.

We now return you to your regularly programmed freak-outs.

[NYT, photo via AP]