Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

Galapagos Oil Spill: Technical Report 20 Feb 2001

Originally published

Latest Updates about Monitoring Efforts

Activities in San Cristobal

On Thursday February 15, personnel from the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) in San Cristobal reported that more fuel had started leaking from the Jessica in the morning. The fuel was actually washing up onto the shore. Fortunately it was only a small amount 2,000 or 3,000 gallons, but it was an ominous reminder of what may have happened if the currents had been flowing in the other direction when the first spill occurred.

As soon as the latest spill occurred, local fishermen, and personnel from the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) and CDRS personnel started cleanup operations, placing barriers and absorbent paper around the spill. The situation continues to be monitored by the GNPS. The GNPS and CDRS fauna rescue team, which consists of 12 members trained by international experts in fauna rescue and management techniques, are on standby.

GNPS and CDRS representatives met on Thursday to analyze the situation and to determine the next steps to take. No animals or birds were sufficiently oiled to require treatment and by Monday February 19, there were no longer traces of fuel in San Cristobal. However, GNPS and CDRS personnel in Cristobal remain alert, because there is still fuel in the tanker and at any time there could be another spill.

Marine Monitoring Trips

On Wednesday February 14, a team of CDRS marine biologists traveled to San Cristobal Island to monitor the land, subtidal and intertidal sites in Wreck Bay and Lobos Islands, areas that were surveyed prior to the fuel spill from the Jessica.

The scientists checked various sites on Lobos Islands and in Wreck Bay and did not find any traces of fuel on the rocks and sand, or in the water. The conditions of sea lion pups in San Cristobal are improving. Previously almost 50% of the pups had eye infections but on this latest trip scientists observed that only 20 % were affected.

On Thursday, February 15, after the second spill occurred, two of the marine biologists dived near the site where the tanker had run aground. The divers saw that Jessica was stranded on a rocky reef and noted fish and invertebrates in the area. While the biologists were submerged they observed a slick of fuel extending from the prow into the sea for approximately 3m_.

Later the team traveled to Santa Fe Island to monitor four more sites there and to count the sea lions that inhabit the area.

There is concern that the bunker fuel that reached Santa Cruz Island may affect the marine turtles that are currently nesting. Another team comprising of three marine biologists monitored the northern beaches of Santa Cruz from February 15-18. Thankfully, it appears that the reproductive activity of the turtles is continuing normally.

Participatory Management Group To Call Special Meeting Regarding The Fuel Spill

During the 22nd meeting of the Participatory Management Board (PMB) in Puerto Ayora on the 6th and 7th of February, it was decided that a special PMB meeting needed to be held to analyze the fuel spill that occurred in San Cristobal.

The Board members hope to hold the in the following week. The objective of the meeting is to discuss and evaluate all the effects of the fuel spill and issues concerning it.