Posted by: The ocean update | April 17, 2015

Dolphins and turtles at risk from oil spill off Canary Islands holiday beaches (Spain)

Environmental disaster : the ship poses a significant threat

Environmental disaster : the ship poses a significant threat

April 17th, 2015. A Russian fishing vessel is leaking oil into the sea after it caught fire and was towed out of the port

Coastguards are battling to contain a four-mile oil slick off beaches on the Canary Islands.

The oil is spewing from a Russian fishing vessel carrying 1,409 tons of fuel.

Environmentalist group criticised authorities for towing the burning fishing vessel out to sea after it caught fire in Las Palmas port early on Sunday.

Spain has launched an investigation into why the ship was taken out of the port and sunk, as oil spills can be harder to contain in the open sea.

The Oleg Naydenov sank 15 nautical miles south of Gran Canaria. Television images showed oil floating on the water.

Spain has sent three tugboats and two light aircraft to control the leak, Public Works Minister Ana Pastor told reporters. Experts were trying to locate a robot which could dive 2.4 kilometres deep to inspect the wreck.

The state prosecutor for the Canary Islands has started an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sinking, a government spokesman said. The waters to the south of the islands are populated by turtles and dolphins.

The accident stirred memories of Spain’s worst environmental disaster when the Prestige oil tanker sank off the northwestern coast of Spain in 2002.

The Prestige was carrying over 50 times more oil than the Oleg Naydenov, but Greenpeace said the Russian ship nevertheless posed a significant threat.

“The hull and tanks of a ship in such bad condition could already be breaking up under the kind of pressure found at such depths,” the group said in a statement.

Oil spills can be harder to contain in the open sea and environmentalists recommend damaged ships are dealt with in ports or bays.

The area where the ship had sunk had deep-sea coral and a significant population of bottle-nosed dolphins.

oiled loggerhead sea turtle found on the place (and now in rehab.), on April 16th

Oiled loggerhead sea turtle found on the place (and now in rehab.), on April 16th

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