Another EU animals at sea disaster: Ten ships with animals stuck in Suez Canal

A satellite image shows the Suez Canal blocked by the stranded container ship Ever Given in Egypt, credit: Roscosmos/via Reuters
A satellite image shows the Suez Canal blocked by the stranded container ship Ever Given in Egypt, credit: Roscosmos/via Reuters

Around ten ships carrying European animals are stuck at sea because of the huge container ship blocking the Suez Canal in Egypt, data from the vessel tracking service MarineTraffic shows. Officials have stopped all ships entering the channel on Thursday.

The 400-meters long ship Ever Given has been stuck diagonally since Tuesday because of high winds and a dust storm. The Suez Canal is one of the world’s busiest shipping channels for oil, grain and also live animals.

In recent months, the animals on the ships Karim Allah and Elbeik suffered extremely because the vessels were longer at sea than expected; that’s on top of the regular horror for animals when they’re transported by sea.

The animal welfare group Eurogroup for Animals has expressed great concern for the animals on the ships that are now stuck in the Suez Canal. They fear they will face the same fate as the animals on the Karim Allah and Elbeik.

According to them, the ships that are now stuck with live animals left from the European countries Spain and Romania.

Jersey, Unimar Livestock, Omega Star, Harmony Livestock, Dragon, Lady Maria, Sea Star Livestock, and Gemma star are the ships with sheep, goats and cows currently in the area.

The EU has to guarantee the wellbeing of these European animals till they reach their destination. But the EU is heavily criticized by animal welfare organisations as they prove over and over that they fail to protect these animals once they leave European ports.

It’s not known if the EU has taken any steps to help the animals that are now stuck or delayed because of the Suez Canal blockage.

Extremely skinny and dehydrated
When Spanish veterinarians checked the animals from the Elbeik when they arrived in the port of Cartagena, they were shocked by the state of the 1600 calves onboard.

They were extremely skinny and dehydrated, had skin conditions, wounds, broken horns and tails, ulcers, and some were in such a bad state they could barely open their eyes or respond to stimuli.

The animals were till their hoofs in poop and pee and in moist areas; there was no dry area for them to sit or rest. They were cramped in small spaces, and too many animals had been loaded on the ship, which often happens.

May take weeks to free the Suez Canal
“We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation,” Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis, one of two rescue teams trying to free the Ever Given, told the Dutch news program Nieuwsuur.

Berdowski said the ship’s bow and stern had been lifted up against either side of the canal: “It is like an enormous beached whale. It’s an enormous weight on the sand.”

A total of 206 large container ships have backed up at either end of the canal, according to tracking data, creating one of the worst shipping jams seen for years.

Japanese shipowner Shoei Kisen apologised for the incident and said work on freeing the ship “has been extremely difficult”, and it was not clear when the vessel would float again.

Roughly 30% of the world’s shipping container volume transits through the 193 km (120 mi) Suez Canal daily.

Egypt is expecting a sea storm this weekend which means rough waters for the animals on the ships.

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