Pacific Adventurer oil spill
On 11 March 2009 the Pacific Adventurer, enroute from Newcastle to Indonesia, ran into trouble off the northern tip of Moreton Island. The 185m container ship lost 31 containers of ammonium nitrate after they came loose in high seas whipped up by Cyclone Hamish.
Some of the containers subsequently pierced the ship's hull, releasing more than 200 tonnes of fuel oil into the ocean, which coated beaches and headlands on Moreton Island and the Sunhine Coast.
At the time the oil spill occurred there were still sixteen sea turtle nests betwen Shelly Beach and Buddina that hadn't emerged. Volunteers from Sunshine Coast TurtleCare, officers from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and Queensland's Environment Protection Agency worked together to protect the remaining nests by containing hatchlings to prevent them running across oil contminated beaches. The hatchlings were contained by placing purpose built enclosures that attached simply but securely to the existing fox exclusion mesh barriers that were in place over each nest.
Approximately 300 hatchlings from three nests emerged in the few days immediately following the spill and they were safely released at the unaffected Teewah Beach where they were able to undertake a relatively normal run to the ocean. Hatchlings from a further three nests in the following days were released at Shelly Beach and Dicky Beach, which were then free of any oil contamination. Another two nests emerged prior to the permanent removal of the enclosures. The hatchlings were released at the nest site after it was confirmed to be clear of any oil hazard.
The response to the crisis from TurtleCare volunteers and the wider Sunshine Coast community was overwhelmingly supportive with offers of assistance flooding in to the agencies participating in the clean up.