During the Western Australian Beach Clean-up event in October 2016, two bunker oil bottles were discovered in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park by volunteers. The following week, another two bottles were found in the same region by Margaret River locals. The oil bottles were still intact, full of marine fuel oil and with labels on them listing a vessel name, date and crew members’ names.
Heidi Taylor, Managing Director of Tangaroa Blue Foundation said, “Volunteers provided photos and location details which we were able to quickly report to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) for potential investigation. This highlights the value of citizen scientists’ observations while out in the field, our volunteers are not rubbish collectors, but part of a national marine debris CSI team.”
AMSA personnel were able to track the vessel, the “Gloria Island” a bulk carrier registered in Panama, down and board whilst alongside at Thevenard in South Australia. Both the Master and Chief Engineer of the vessel were questioned at length and could not provide any explanation as to how the oil sample bottles made their way overboard. The vessel’s processes regarding bunker oil sampling were also reviewed.