Smeared sea bird among casualties
Oil spill mars mangroves
A SEA bird covered in oil has been found on a beach north of Townsville as authorities tasked with cleaning up a large spill confirm it has now spread into mangroves.
About 117 local and State Government workers continued the shoreline clean- up at Forrest Beach, Hinchinbrook Island, Taylors Beach and Palm Island, where new oil patches were discovered on trees yesterday.
Maritime Safety Queensland is co- ordinating the operation from its Townsville headquarters with assistance from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Department of Environment, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, RoadTek and various council officers.
GBRMPA operations support manager Mark Read said a brown booby sea bird affec- ted by oil was found on Forrest Beach yesterday and brought to Townsville for tests.
“We’ve got people out on the beaches having a look at the environment just trying to see where the oil is but also to give us some idea about the potential impacts on the ecosystems,” Mr Read said.
“A member of the public spotted the bird and wildlife officers were able to catch it.
“We will keep that under observation for about seven days before we release it back into the wild.”
Mr Read said he believed most of the oil had washed up on beaches, but new patches had been found in mangroves on Palm Island.
“A clean- up crew over there are wiping up the mangroves and getting it out of the ecosystem,” he said.
“We are lucky in the fact that the oil has been floating around in the ocean for over a week and it is considered weathered so it doesn’t have a lot of the chemicals it would have if it were fresh.”
Townsville’s regional harbour master Frank D’Souza said the clean up would be extended with more oil found on other beaches yesterday.
“Most of Hinchinbrook Island is well under way and we hope to have that pretty much cleaned up and in good condition by the end of the week,” he said.
“We have just looked at Bronte Beach ... and it does have a bit of oil so we will put some people on it ( today) along with Shepherd Bay on Hinchinbrook Island.”