Oct 8, 2011

Cargo ship strikes reef off New Zealand

CLICK to enlarge
In the early hours of Wednesday, October 5th, as the Captain a 21-year old Liberian-flagged cargo ship, carrying hundreds of containers (many carrying toxic material) and loaded with half a million gallons of heavy fuel, ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef off New Zealand's Bay of Plenty coast, just 12 nautical miles from Tauranga. Click maps to enlarge.



New Zealand is facing its greatest marine environmental disaster. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil is said to have spilled from the stricken vessel, with an estimated 1,300 tons remaining onboard. Bad weather has delayed salvage efforts. In the meantime, the ship fractured nearly in two, and threatens to break apart.


Here is a LINK to an article that chronicles the event in a timeline.


More than 1,000 birds have been found dead; more than 100 are undergoing treatment. Massey University Wildlife Health Center is overseeing the care of oiled animals at a makeshift hospital at the Te Maunga wastewater treatment plant. 




The oil poses a risk for many marine species. Of greatest concern is the impact it could have on the New Zealand dotterel, an endangered shorebird, with a population of only 1,200.


The wreck could not have happened at a worse time. As North America braces for winter, the Southern hemisphere is entering into its summer months and the peak of breeding season for thousands and thousands of marine animals.


With 86 seabird species breeding in its territorial waters, 38 of them endemic - New Zealand is known as the seabird capitol of the world.


Help arriving! Reportedly, more than 4,000 people have signed up to volunteer to help clean the beaches and experts from around the world are converging to assist with recovery and care of oiled wwldlife, among them, our colleagues from International Bird Rescue.