Coastal Oil Spills



This experience demonstrates the amazing speed and ecological benefits of using 'dehydrated' peat absorbents for oil spill clean up. This product offers a fast and environmentally friendly method for protecting the eco-system, including plant and wildlife during oil spill disasters. With this product, the project was cleaned up in record time, not YEARS! In the case of this project, within one month the beaches were clean - and peat made the difference in the death toll of the local wildlife! Avian Demography Unit Department of Statistical Sciences University of Cape Town Initial effects of the Treasure oil spill on seabirds off Western South Africa

In the early morning of 23 June 2000, the bulk ore carrier MV Treasure sank off western South Africa between Dassen and Robben islands, both Important Bird Areas. Treasure was carrying about 1344 t of heavy fuel oil, 56 t of marine diesel and 64 t of lube oil, of which all but 205 t of heavy fuel oil spilt into the surrounding water. On 24 June oiled African Penguins started to come ashore at Dassen and Robben islands. Oil moved towards Robben Island, where booms were attached to the end of the breakwater at Murrays Bay Harbour in an attempt to keep oil from reaching that portion of the island's coastline used by most penguins for accessing the breeding area. The booms parted on the night of 24 June, and oil came ashore between the breakwater and the northern point of the island. This meant that almost all penguins arriving at or leaving the island would become oiled. Additionally, oil covered large portions of the foraging grounds of penguins at Robben Island. A few days later, the oil moved north towards Dassen Island, which it reached on 28 June. Large quantities of oil came ashore at Whale Bay, the southern portion of Area C and Ichaboe Point, and lesser quantities in Lime Kiln Bay, portions of Waterloo Bay, the northern portions of Area G and portions of Boom Point. Prevailing currents continued to move the oil north, leading to concern that seabird colonies at islands farther north, including Vondeling Island and islands in West Coast National Park, would also be impacted. By 1 July, no oil was observed north of Dassen Island, but large slicks remained between Dassen and Robben islands and south of Robben Island and continued to threaten penguins until 16 July. In addition to African Penguin, other endangered seabirds were at risk from the Treasure spill. On 20 June 1994, the Apollo Sea sank between Dassen and Robben islands. Oil came ashore on Dassen Island at West Bay and House Bay, and later also on Robben Island. This resulted in about 10000 penguins being oiled, of which 4718 were successfully cleaned by Southern African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and later returned to the wild. The other 5000 birds died, many during transportation from the islands to SANCCOB's rescue stations or in the first few days after arriving at the stations. Before the sinking of Treasure, the Apollo Sea incident was the largest oiling event for seabirds in southern Africa. Soon after Treasure sank, it became apparent that a much larger number of birds was at risk of becoming oiled, and that unless steps were take to minimize this number, it may prove beyond the capacity of SANCCOB to care for. This paper discusses steps that were taken to minimize the numbers of birds that became oiled and remedial measures that were implemented for those that were oiled. It also assesses the initial impact of the Treasure oil spill on the seabirds off western South Africa. It is not yet possible to report the final impact of the spill because many seabirds are still at the rescue centers. Additionally, it will be several years before follow-up studies are able to assess the long-term impact of the spill on the seabird colonies.

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