Hello Everyone, Today we are blogging about the incident currently unfolding off the coast of New Zealand. On October 5, 2011, the MV Rena struck the Astrolabe reef off of the coast of New Zealand, near Tauranga. The MV Rena was carrying around 1700 tonnes of fuel oil (equal to over 500,000 gallons), as well as containers hauling around 200 tonnes of diesel fuel. Initially around 30 tonnes of fuel oil spilled into the water, however, by yesterday, reports stated that 350 tonnes have now spilled. Progress in containing the spill and unloading the remaining oil has been hampered by bad weather, including large swells and strong winds, and the fact that the ship is leaning at an approximately 18-degree angle.
Because of the location, this oil spill in particular has the potential of causing widespread damage to this pristine environment. This area of New Zealand is home to large numbers of birds, including little blue penguins, cormorants, a variety of petrels, and endangered New Zealand dotterels. Many marine mammals can also be found in this area, including New Zealand fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, orcas, and beaked whales. Reports state that several oiled little blue penguins and cormorants have been recovered and taken to wildlife facilities to be cleaned. Additionally, tar balls have begun washing up on the beaches.
Our colleagues at Massey University’s Wildlife Centre are currently helping to lead the wildlife response, and in the next few days the OWCN’s director, Dr. Michael Ziccardi, will head to New Zealand as well. Dr. Ziccardi will be assisting in marine mammal management.
Please check back in the next few days for more updates.
-Becky and Kyra