Oil leak from ship threatens endangered turtles

Oil leak from ship threatens endangered turtles

"More than 100,000 turtles had nested last month on the Rushikulya beach. The oil can cause irreversible damage to the eggs and the turtles which are still present at the offshore waters," said Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of the Wildlife Society of Orissa. He said an oil coating was found spread over a seven km area off the beach. "Hundreds of dead fish were also found," he told reporters from the site.

"Marine fauna which form the food for the turtles will be severely affected by the oil. Dolphins can also be impacted by the spill," he said. "The oil has to be recovered and collected so that there is no adverse effect on turtle eggs or the marine fauna," Mohanty said.

The non-coking coal laden ship sailing from Indonesia had anchored nearly two km away from the port at Gopalpur in Ganjam district, about 170 km from here, when a barge hit it leading to the oil leak. "The barge engaged in cargo operation went out of control due to rough sea conditions and hit the ship," P.K. Mohapatra, executive director of Gopalpur port told reporters, adding that the accident took place Monday evening.

"There was a leakage of about seven to eight tonnes of fuel oil from the ship. But the leakage was spotted and contained within half an hour," he said.  The port authorities engaged 400 workers to remove the oil from the water and coast. District Collector V.K. Pandian said officials have been sent to assess the damage  caused by the oil to marine life and environment.

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