Sea turtle dies in oil slick believed to be from US navy ship collision

Sea turtle dies in oil slick believed to be from US navy ship collision
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

KUANTAN - A sea turtle has died after being enveloped by an oil spill off Pulau Tioman, said Reef Check Malaysia programme manager Alvin Chelliah.

He said he was sent a photograph of the dead turtle covered in oil and was told that residents in the affected area have buried the carcass.

The spill was spotted near Pulau Tulai and Kampung Air Batang on Tuesday, he said.

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"I suspect it is from the collision between an oil tanker and a US Navy destroyer off Johor recently.

"Strong winds and currents may have pushed the slick towards Pulau Tioman. We have informed the authorities and they will make a verification," Alvin said.

The incident comes after the appearance of tar balls near the popular dive spot early last month.

"The tar balls were semi-solid and we could pick them up easily," he said, adding that the oil slick posed a bigger problem.

State Environment Department director Rosli Zul has sent officers to investigate the incident while Pahang Fisheries Department director Datuk Adnan Hussain said it was gathering more information on the death of the turtle.

"Based on our records, there has not been any turtle deaths due to an oil spill since 2010," said Adnan.

He said the turtle in the photograph appears to be about seven or eight years old but could not identify its species.

About 98 per cent of those in Pahang waters are green sea turtles while the rest are the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles, he added.

On Aug 21, the USS John S. McCain collided with Liberian-registered Alnic MC; 10 US sailors were killed in the incident.

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