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Cyprus Environment Featured

Dead turtle found in oil slick, breaking up and dissolving (update 3, video)

oil

The environmental consequences of the oils slick that approached the Cyprus coast are already starting to be counted as a small turtle was pulled out of the sea dead by a clean up crew in Karpasia.

A video uploaded online shows two men removing the oil when at one point they pull out a dead young turtle.

At the same time, a conservation organisation in the north announced they had rescued a flamingo, which was reportedly found on a beach in the Karpasia area.

Earlier, the fisheries department said that any remnants of the Syrian oil slick that remained off Cyprus were gradually decomposing and dissolving.

“At the same time, an investigation is being carried out for confirmation using marine and airborne means as well as using any information we receive regarding petroleum residues,” the department said.

“Based on the field research so far that has covered an area of 900 square nautical miles, there is no presence of oil spill residues in the sea area northeast of Cape Greco,” it added.

Earlier reports said that parts of the oil slick leaked from a Syrian power station was making its way towards Cyprus but ultimately drifted away from the island were spotted in the sea 55km northeast of Cape Greco.

Authorities were alerted by a fishing boat in the area on Wednesday.

The threat in the north is also receding as the slick has drifted away from Karpasia to the north, ‘Deputy Minister of Tourism and Environment’ Serhan Aktunds said.

“The mass has broken into several pieces some of which sank to the sea bottom. Two ships coming from Turkey will absorb the remnants, but the process afterward will last from two to three months and will be controlled by the ‘environment department’,” he added.

He urged the public visiting beaches in Famagusta over the next few days to be cautious.

Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said a police helicopter was monitoring the area to assess the situation, and a vessel had been sent.

The fisheries department was put on alert, while the anti-pollution boat Alexandria was on standby off the Famagusta area “to be used if and when deemed appropriate”.

“It seems that small parts have detached,” said Kadis. “That was the image we got from satellite images we received from the European Maritime Safety Agency. We want to make sure of the extent,” he said, adding a fisheries department vessel was also in the area.

“So far nothing alarming has been identified and that is why the search area under investigation is expanding. The goal is to cover the wider sea area northeast of Cape Greco,” the minister added.

“If something is found we need to study the extent and nature of the pollution in order to manage it properly. I want to reassure the people that we are ready to activate the mechanisms we have to deal with any incident.”

He said the presence of the Alexandria in Cyprus was secured after a request of the shipping ministry to the European Maritime Safety Agency, “with which we are in constant contact since the day the oil spill was created”.

Kadis said the main oil slick was headed towards the shores of Turkey and Syria.

EMSA has suggested all countries in the region activate the framework against oil pollution in the Mediterranean, which is a part of the Barcelona Convention.

In the Karpasia area, ‘Public works minister’ Resmiye Canaltay had earlier said the oil had changed consistency, becoming thicker, and settling down on the seabed in chunks which will have massive environmental implications. She said it was imperative to act swiftly.

The spill off the Syrian coast was captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites on August 24 and 25.

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