On an island chain halfway between Africa and Argentina, officials and resident volunteers are conducting a massive penguin rescue operation after a shipwreck leaked thousands of tons of oil, diesel fuel, and soya bean near the U.K.'s Nightingale Island. At least 300 northern rockhopper penguins have died and thousands more remain in danger, tarred with oil and diesel fuel. The rescue operation began shortly after March 16, when a Maltese-registered ship ran aground, fracturing its hull and splitting the vessel in two. All 22 crew members were immediately rescued. By Friday, the penguin rescue mission's director said they had transported 5,000 penguins to safer territory. But the oil spill's timing couldn't have been worse. It occurred at the end of the birds' molting season, when they do no not eat. "The priority is to get food into the birds as they are very hungry," said Katrine Herian, a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds who is taking part in the rescue mission.