Reporting marine oil spills
Reporting a marine oil spill early is critical. Oil introduces toxic material into the food chain, degrades beaches, and can smother marine organisms.
Don't attempt to clean up the spill yourself - the incident will be investigated and a suitable response made - eg:
- allowing the fuel to naturally dissipate
- agitation of the water
- use of recovery equipment.
How to report a marine oil spill
If you witness pollution from a ship or notice oil on any waters phone 8248 3505 or call on radio channel 12 at all hours.
Provide as much information as possible - tell the operator:
- any other relevant information available.
- your contact details
- when and where the pollution occurred
- the type of substance discharged
- the extent of the pollution
- name of the vessel or other source.
How to tell if a substance is oil
- When oil enters water it will generally quickly start to spread to a thin layer, often over a large area.
- Oil generally has a sheen on water.
- Oil will generally appear smoother or 'slick' compared to the surrounding water.
- Oil will generally have a strong smell (petroleum-based product).
- If oil is on rocks, sand, or other structures it will not wash off with water.
- If it quickly washes off into the water it is probably algae.
- If unsure, always report it.
During the summer months, South Australian waters experience a phenomenon commonly known as sea scum.
Short filaments of algal plant life, disturbed by wind and sea, appear as grey-fawn-coloured streaks on the water. The algae can also be red, red-brown, or yellow, often resembling oil. As the algae decays it gives off an offensive odour similar to chlorine, iodine, or oil.