Initial Assessment Assignment:

Thank you for signing up for a fun class with Write Ahead.  To identify how we can best help strengthen your persuasive and analysis writing skills, please complete this short assessment:

  1. Watch this short video:

  2. Read excerpts from 2 articles, below

  3. Set a timer for 20 minutes, write 1-3 paragraphs describing the impact of the spill and/or the rescue efforts that followed. Support your response with at least two pieces of evidence. 

  4. Please email whatever you have completed within 20 minutes to

Article 1: Save as Many Penguins As We Can (

In this article, an animal rescue worker arrives at work to discover she is needed for a penguin rescue.


As I tied my sweater around my waist and headed out the door for work, I had no idea what heartache today would bring. At my office the wildlife preservation experts scurried around in a flurry of activity, with phones ringing and everyone speaking at once.


“There is a van outside. Go quickly. We need you on the ground.”


A ship named MV Treasure had sunk just off the coast and spilled over 1,300 tons of oil that was fatal to the already endangered African penguins.


When we arrived, the silence stunned us. Penguins usually make loud, cacophonous noise, non-stop. Total silence. Then, we saw them. Some were completely shiny black, drenched in poisonous oil. My impulse was to pull off my sweater and begin wiping them off. We were brought into a make-shift rehabilitation center that had just gone up that morning. Upon entering the room, I held back powerful nausea. The odors from the penguin droppings, people sweating, and dead fish they planned to feed to the penguins just overwhelmed the room.


After the briefing, we each stepped out with specific tasks. I observed the penguins barely able to move in the now thick, black water, that formerly had been pristine blue.  Not only did their world alter, but they could not even see as the oil had burned their eyes. We were instructed to first catch those that were trying to clean themselves off by licking themselves. Ingesting the oil could kill them. As I restrained the penguin and tried to clean off the oil, it began to wing slap me and bite me.   It’s jaws were so powerful, it lacerated right through my leather jacket. Washing oil off took incredible muscle power, given how stubbornly sticky it is. Even with exhausting scrubbing, it took over an hour to wash each bird and even then the birds were not completely clean.


By nightfall, we had made incredible progress. Again, I felt overwhelmed with sentiment as I watch the sea of fatigued workers and volunteers leaving the area, and many staying behind to work through the night. In the end after twelve weeks, the news that thousands of endangered penguins had been saved reached us. The mobilization and coordination of the effort was astounding. While tragic, at least the experienced leadership of the effort succeeded in saving so many that would have otherwise died.


Article 2: Penguins Under Threat!

Robben Island, South Africa, June 23, 2000


A ship called MV Treasure just sank six miles off the coast of South Africa. The ship carried 1,300 tons of  oil, which spilled into the ocean, threatening the African penguins there.


Aside from causing the temporary closing of South Africa's ports, MV Treasure’s spill may be South Africa's worst environmental disaster, seriously threatening its population of African penguins. Over 20,000 penguins were oiled and approximately 2,000 died.


The African penguin rescue effort was one of the largest bird rescue missions undertaken thanks to its many volunteers and teams of professionals. The rescue effort consisted of washing and rehabilitating already-oiled birds and relocating non-oiled birds as a preemptive measure.  The surrounding area was also cleaned. Different types of methods were used in the cleanup of the oil spill, two of which included workers loading kelp covered in oil into trucks and vacuuming up pools of oil with specially designed vacuums.


The rehabilitation effort was primarily funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which worked together with the local rehabilitation, conservation and bird rescue centers.  Oil wildlife teams took action the same day the cargo ship sank. The rehabilitation process required over 130 international team members supervising over 45,000 volunteers who came with no experience at all. The hungry penguins were no longer able to catch their usual food, so they needed to be hand fed dead fish. Used to eating live sardines, they forcefully resisted. The workers had to restrain the penguins, hold open their jaws and push food down the birds’ throats to get them the nourishment they needed.  Workers were not only exhausted, but harmed in the process.


The professional bird experts had to both save the penguins and counsel the volunteers who had never encountered such circumstances before. Fortunately, the bird experts showed great skill in their leadership. They raised up a make-shift warehouse and organized the effort at break-pace speed. Everyone stood together. In the end over 90%, of the at risk endangered penguins were saved.

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