On August 21, 2009 the Montara oil rig suffered a blowout and began spilling oil. The well was located in 250 ft of water, between East Timor and Australia. It took four attempts over ten weeks to block the leak and it was eventually achieved when mud was pumped into a relief well.
The Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism estimated up to 2,000 barrels per day (or up to 85,000 gallons) were spilled over that time, five times the estimate the PTT Exploration & Production Public Company Limited gave.
In the end, the Wilderness Society estimated the oil slick to have affected 19,000 square miles of ocean.
After assessing this area, the federal Environmental Minister and WWF Australia released reports confirming that a large number of whales, dolphins, and sea turtles were feeding in these polluted waters and noted the presence of dying birds and dead sea snakes.
Endangered flatback and threatened hawksbill turtles were observed swimming in the slick. Birds were of particular concern as many were breeding in nearby reserves and migrating across the slick, away from the northern winter. The oil sheen also attracted fish, which, in turn, attracted feeding birds. The Australian Government treated a small number of birds, including common noddies and brown boobies.
Fishermen in Indonesia reported that the oil that had reached Indonesian waters was making them ill, killing the fish and damaging thousands of acres of valuable and ready to harvest seaweed. Seaweed is a valuable commodity for food as well as other uses such as cosmetics, fertilizer and biofuel.
- Ocean News: Great Barrier Reef Will be “Pretty Ugly” by 2050, Sea Turtle Nests Down in South Carolina, and More Posted Wed, July 23, 2014
- Ocean News: Cape Cod Embraces Shark Spottings, Rare White Southern Right Whale Calf Spotted off Australia, and More Posted Tue, July 29, 2014
- Eleven Florida Lawmakers Urge President Obama to Reconsider Approval for Seismic Airgun Testing Posted Wed, July 23, 2014
- No-Take Zones in Belize Could Rebuild Conch, Lobster, and Grouper Populations Posted Tue, July 29, 2014
- Video: Spangled Emperor Fish Dazzle the Great Barrier Reef Posted Wed, July 23, 2014