Wildlife & Oil Don’t Mix

Last updated: November 20, 2017

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Several Pelicans released on Moreton Island

On 11 March this year the hull of the container ship Pacific Adventurer was pierced in two locations by its own shipping containers after 31 had fallen overboard in rough seas. About 270 tonnes of oil spilled into the sea off the east coast of Moreton Island as a result. The oil washed ashore contaminating beaches on the Sunshine Coast, and Bribie and Moreton islands.

While this became Queensland’s largest oil spill for many years the impact on wildlife was not as severe as it could have been. The rough seas associated with Cyclone Hamish that occurred during the oil spill had also kept seabirds well away from the exposed oiled beaches.

Consequently even though over 20,000 observations of birds were made in the area by DERM staff and the Queensland Wader Study Group only about 100 birds were found to have come into contact with any oil (mainly on their legs and feet).

Oiled animals taken into captive care:

  • 13 Australian pelicans
  • 2 silver gulls
  • 1 sacred kingfisher
  • 1 lesser crested tern
  • 1 wedge-tailed shearwater
  • 1 sea snake

Animal mortalities (believed to be directly attributed to the oil spill):

  • 1 little tern
  • 1 great-winged or providence petrel
  • 1 sea snake

This Wildlife Ward article brought to you by the DERM and the QWRC

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