Bunker oil spill | Turtle habitat reacts in the East

  • NARA to conduct sample collection and observations fortnightly

By Sarah Hannan

The National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) oceanographers observed that the turtle habitat in the eastern seas was impacted by the MT New Diamond bunker oil spill.

The NARA sent their research teams to collect samples from the beachside in the eastern coast and posted an observation team to study the behavioural changes of marine life and aquaculture in the surrounding and adjacent areas of the bunker oil spill. 

Speaking to The Morning, NARA Environmental Studies Division Head Dr. K.W.S. Weerasekara said: “The first observations recorded by our team at the site noted that the turtles were the first to react to the change in the seawater column due to the dilution of bunker oil in the area. 

“They have been swimming closer to the surface, which indicates that the air within the water column could be polluted to a certain extent and that it is hindering their underwater breathing capacity.” 

Furthermore, monitoring activities are to be carried out by the NARA; samples of seawater associated with the ship will be taken twice a week as long as the ship is in Sri Lankan waters. 

In addition, the NARA said samples are being taken of marine flora and fauna associated with being in proximity to the ship, and that the flora were observed to have reflected fluorescence – considered to be a reaction of flora in fuel-rich ecosystems.

In addition, the condition of the gills and stomachs of the fish was also being examined. It was said that the water samples taken were tested, and it was confirmed it contains fuel.