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Impact of the Iron Baron Oil Spill on Subtidal Reef Assemblages in Tasmania


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Barrett, NS and Edgar, GJ 2000 , 'Impact of the Iron Baron Oil Spill on Subtidal Reef Assemblages in Tasmania' , Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 40, no. 1 , pp. 36-49 , doi: 10.1016/S0025-326X(99)00101-0.

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The biological impact of the grounding of the bulk carrier
Iron Baron on Hebe Reef in northern Tasmania, with
release of approximately 350 tonnes of Bunker C fuel oil,
was assessed using quantitative underwater censuses at
numerous reef sites before and after the spill. Physical
abrasion from the ship's bull during grounding caused the
complete destruction of the subtidal reef community
within a localized area of 170 m by 20 m on Hebe
Reef. However, the release of fuel oil did not appear to
have substantially affected populations of subtidal reef-
associated organisms in the near vicinity. Analyses of
changes over time outside the hull impact area at oiled
sites before and after the spill, and comparisons with un-
disturbed reference sites, indicated no significant change
in number of species on reefs or in densities of the most
abundant animal and plant species. Post-impact moni-
toring of the grounding zone and adjacent reference sites
on Hebe Reef indicated that the &sh assemblage associ-
ated with the hull scar recovered rapidly in terms of spe-
cies composition and species richness within one year,
whereas plant and invertebrate assemblages had not
reached inferred pre-distufbance levels after two years.
Wave disturbance appeared to be hindering re-establish-
ment of large macroalgae over part of the abrasion zone
where the reef substrata had been converted to unstable

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Barrett, NS and Edgar, GJ
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Pollution Bulletin
ISSN: 0025-326X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/S0025-326X(99)00101-0
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