Around 80% of the oil spilled into the sea off the coast of North Cyprus this past summer has been recovered, according to the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC).
Approximately 300-450 tonnes of oil were spilt during the unloading of fuel from a tanker to the pipeline of Turkish energy company AKSA on 15 July 2013 at Kalecik, which immediately covered an area of approximately 5km radius, and then spread over 12-13 km of coastline in the following two days.
There have been reports that small amounts of oil have reached beaches in Karpas and Cape Greko, which are approximately 50 km from the spill area, but as there has been no analysis of the oil, it is still unknown if they originated from the AKSA spill.
According to REMPEC, the spilled oil immediately washed up to the shore and lumped together, and as such there were minimal negative effects on pelagic habitats and organisms such as fish, turtles, dolphins etc. The coasts were, however, adversely affected by the washed-up oil, including organisms such as crabs, mussels, other gastropods, and some algae species. Furthermore, 8 shags, Phalacrocorax aristotelis, were found covered in oil, and their recovery from the oil was unsuccessful. Another 19 shags found are well and able to fly. Last May, ‘BirdLife Cyprus’ recorded 32 adult and 25 juvenile Shags off the tip of the Karpas Peninsula, an important area for birds in Cyprus.
As the REMPEC report states, the clean-up of oil is nearly completed on the coastline, while the process to clean up the remaining fuel trapped in 3 beaches and on the sea bed very close to these beaches is still ongoing. The clean-up activities are being carried out by Turkish oil cleaning company SEAGULL.