DoE solves mystery of suspected pollutant

| 23/08/2010

(CNS): Following a number of reports to the media and marine officers the Department of Environment has solved the mystery of what some believed was oil floating in the sea around the Seven Mile Public Beach. The material is in fact peat likely churned up by wave action from underneath the beach a phenomena which occurs from time to time and as it’s a natural substance local marine life is under no threat. Deputy Director, Scott Slaybaugh confirmed that officers had followed up on the reports and carried out a thorough investigation. He said the department was grateful to the public for bringing it to their attention so they were able to examine what it was and reassure everyone that it is safe. (Photo – Scott Slaybaugh, hand model – Tracy Galvin)

“On this occasion ithas turned out to be peat which occurs naturally and is an organic material so its harmless but its important that we investigate any sightings in the ocean that look suspicious and we want people to call into the DoE whenever they see things in the ocean that they are not quite sure about so we can check on them,” Slaybaugh said.
He said that peat is a common substance where the mangroves grow and there is a lot of this organic naturally forming, material, which is essential slowly decaying plant life, in the area around the public beach where it was sighted on this occasion. The Deputy Director of Operations & Enforcement said the material can get churned up from under the sand and be carried out into the ocean where it picks up all sorts of ocean detritus and as it gets tumbled around in the waves it takes on a smooth appearance making it look like a tar ball or oil. (Underwater shot by Chief Enforcement Officer, Mark Orr.)
When it breaks up Slaybaugh said it makes the water cloudy as it is very crumbly material and it is easy for people to mistake it for something harmful. He said that the DoE has reports regarding the peat a couple of times a year, to varying degrees, but as there is peat under the beaches its not unexpected for it to make its way in to the ocean. The marine expert reassured the public that it will not cause any harm to marine life or to anyone swimming in the area.
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