Reporting oil spills

Reporting a 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 an 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
  • extent of the pollution
  • name of vessel or other source.

How to tell if a substance is oil

Rub the substance between your fingers. If it quickly washes off into the water it is probably algae. Oil will not wash off in water.

Sea scum

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.

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Page last updated 18 August 2020

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